1st large Chinese-made passenger jet makes its maiden flight

Michel Merluzeau, director of AirInsightResearch, an aerospace & defence market analysis and consulting group, based in Seattle, told Xinhua that he was impressed by the role of the Chinese government and the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), the manufacturer of the C919, to accelerate innovation and implement innovative programs.

The C919's first test flight was pushed back at least twice since 2014 due to production issues, and a further 4,200 flight hours are planned in the test campaign.

The C919, with over 150 seats and a standard range of 4,075 kilometers, is expected to compete with the updated Airbus 320 and Boeing's new-generation 737, which now dominate the market, the report said. Before the flight, the C919, whose enhanced version has a range of 5,555 kilometers, passed a series of strict tests after rolling off the assembly line in November 2015.

COMAC has already received orders for 570 C919s from domestic aviation and leasing companies, benefitting from the national market, which is the second-largest in the world.

Crew members of the C919, China's first homegrown large passenger plane, wave at spectators in Shanghai on Friday after the plane completed its first test flight. Failing to win FAA certification would restrict the sale of the aircraft to only domestic market and certain regional clients.

#China last August launched a new multi-billion dollar jet-engine conglomerate with almost 100,000 employees, with the hope of powering its own planes with self-made engines.

The plane also relies on an array of overseas technology, with CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric's aerospace arm and a unit of French firm Safran supplying the engines.

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The takeoff of the C919 brought cheers and applause from hundreds of invited guests at Shanghai Pudong International Airport and was broadcast live on Chinese state television.

People in China, though, are cheering the successful first flight.

China's high-speed railway has been an important market theme, and there is no reason why the home-grown jet story can not become another powerful trading concept.

The next step in Comac's evolution as an aircraft manufacturer is now likely to be the development of China's first long-haul, wide-bodied jet.

The jet was designed and produced in China and made with resources from around the world. Adopting a cutting-edge engine and other components, the C919 is considered comparable with the rival planes in quality, said Yasuo Hashimoto, senior researcher at Japan Aviation Management Research.

While C919 is a home-grown aircraft, it has been dependent on foreign technology. "And we welcome competition, which is good for the development of the industry".


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