China's first giant passenger jet is slated for maiden test flight

Posted May 15, 2017

The C919's maiden flight on Friday caused air traffic controllers in Pudong to issue a red alert to other operators, and other flights were delayed either side of the test flight takeoff.

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 maiden sortie, flown from Shanghai's Pudong International airport, was broadcast live on Chinese television, with a camera behind the pilot's shoulder.

The plane took off at 2:00 pm (0600 GMT) and was expected to fly for an hour and a half.

The 80-minute flight was greeted with applause by more than 1,000 spectators on the tarmac, including Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai and Shanghai Communist Party chief Han Zheng.

The Chinese plane is touted to rival to the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, but a spokesman for the aircraft's maker said it can not compare.

The single-aisle, 168-seat aircraft is being cast as China's answer to the Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320.

China's homegrown large passenger plane C919 makes its maiden flight in Shanghai, east China, on May 5.

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The No.102 jet will also receive test flying under tough weather conditions, Wu added. But the project was abandoned later.

The state company formed a 50:50 partnership a year ago with Russian counterpart United Aircraft Corp to develop a longer-haul passenger plane, with the companies earmarking a maiden flight in 2022, with deliveries beginning as early as 2025. More than 200,000 technicians worked on the project.

Comac says it has 570 orders, mostly from state-owned Chinese airlines.

A similar thing happened to China's first domestically made jet.

Although the C919 is largely a Chinese indigenous design, a host of Western suppliers have contributed major components, including CFM International Leap-1C engines, Liebherr landing gear and Honeywell flight control and navigation systems. Comac also relies on worldwide technology from firms such as General Electric, Safran and Honeywell global.

Despite the delay, COMAC is set to challenge market leaders Boeing and Airbus in the future, with the new plane priced 40% to 50% lower than the American and European makers' equivalent models. A total of 23 domestic and foreign customers have placed orders.

However, China is running with the patriotic angle, with state broadcaster CGTN hailing the flight as "another fulfilment of a Chinese dream".

"If achieved, I think it will greatly enhance the accessible market of C919", he said.