China-made jet takes off in maiden flight


China is also building various runways across the country slated for test flights of the C919 - which is being targeted at commercially challenging the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 - including Yaohu airport in Nanchang, Jiangxi province.

The plane called C919 is thought to pose a major challenge to Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

The aircraft's first flight marks the first step in a testing campaign that will run up to 4,200 hours, and involve six test aircraft.

China's indigenously built C919 passenger jet finally took to the skies on its long-delayed maiden flight today.

The CFM Leap 1C-powered C919 is created to seat 158 passengers in a standard two-class configuration. The "C" in the aircraft's name stands for both China and COMAC (Commercial Aircraft Corp of China), the number 9 is a symbol for "everlasting", while the 19 represents the aircraft's maximum seat capacity of 190.

But so far, demand for the jet has remained local: orders are nearly entirely from Chinese carriers for domestic flying.

The C919 will go through a series of flight tests, with the maiden flight scheduled for Friday, and it will take two to three years to go to the market, said Fu Guohua, one of C919's designers.

"This is an important milestone for China with this new aircraft".

"We believe C919 will bring new competition to the market", he said.

But COMAC may be able to rely on purchases by fast-growing Chinese airlines.

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Despite two slipped first delivery dates, Comac has managed to secure firm orders and options for 570 C919s from 23 companies.

But Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst at Teal Group, told Bloomberg News that China may have to wait till its next aircraft to really break the duopoly for jets that can carry more than 100 passengers.

At the moment, though, Boeing and Airbus remain far ahead in terms of sales, technical know-how and order books.

The Y-10 was built in the 1970s but it was eventually deemed unviable due to its heavy weight and never entered service.

China's first regional commercial aircraft ARJ21 began commercial operation in June 2016.

China's first large jetliner, the C919, took its maiden flight on Friday.

Although the C919 is made in China, foreign firms are playing key roles by supplying systems as well as the engines, which are made by CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric of the United States and France´s Safran.

May 2014: Chinese President Xi Jinping visits COMAC's offices and says large jets are a reflection of China's national capabilities and urges the development of a competitive aviation industry.

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

China first gave the world a glimpse of C919 in an aircraft show in Zhuhai in 2010.