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Chinese Homegrown Jumbo Passenger Jet Takes to the Sky

14 Mai 2017

One year behind the original schedule, the made-in-China C919, manufactured by state-owned company Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), took off from Shanghai's Pudong International Airport and completed a 90-minute journey.

A China Eastern Airlines jet taxis near a Chinese C919 passenger jet before its scheduled first flight at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, Friday, May 5, 2017.

Comac says more than 200 Chinese companies and 36 universities have been involved in research and development of the C919.

The C919 has more than 150 seats and a range of 4,075 kilometers (2,532 miles), and is meant to compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, among the most popular commercial planes flying in the skies.

China is ready to flex its aviation muscle in the global market as its much-awaited domestically made large passenger plane made its maiden flight on Friday (5 May).

It has a range of 5,555 kilometres (3,444 miles) and has received 570 orders, nearly all from domestic airlines.

COMAC will seek airworthiness certificates from the Civil Aviation Administration of China and foreign aviation safety regulators before making its first deliveries slated for around 2019. The plane called C919 is thought to pose a major challenge to Boeing 737 and Airbus A320. The country's state-owned airlines first signed up to buy the jet in 2010, and it was originally supposed to enter service in 2016.

China is on track to surpass the U.S.by 2030 as the world's largest commercial aviation market.

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While the 39-metre long plane is made in China, foreign firms are playing key roles by supplying systems as well as engines. 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. China will need 6,810 planes, worth more than $1 trillion, through 2035, according to Boeing estimates.

"Basically, they can deliver jets if they're willing to lose a lot of money", Richard Aboulafia, vice president at Teal Group Corp., a US -based aerospace intelligence company.

Before China's C919, only the US, Russia, Brazil, Canada, the UK, France, and Germany had developed large homegrown airliners.

However, despite the successful test flight, it still takes time for the C919 to take off in the market.

There is still a long way to go down the road to a globally competitive aerospace industry, however.

A recent Boeing forecast said China will need 6,810 new aircraft in the next 20 years at an estimated cost of United States dollars one trillion.

It quotes an analyst as first saying that C919 "could have the opportunity to break the monopolies of Boeing and Airbus", which have a duopoly in the global market.

Chinese Homegrown Jumbo Passenger Jet Takes to the Sky