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

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

The first large made-in-China passenger plane took off on its maiden test flight Friday, marking a key milestone on the country's ambitious journey to compete with the world's leading aircraft makers.

The first C919 will mainly test the flying conditions, the onboard equipment and the landing gear, while the second or No.102 jet will be tested mainly on the engine and fuel systems, said Mao Wei, director with the test flying engineering department with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), the developer of C919.

A Chinese-made C919 passenger jet takes off on its first flight at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, Friday, May 5, 2017.

The 158-seater C919 aircraft took off from Shanghai Pudong International Airport in eastern China, making the country the fourth after the United States, Europe and Russian Federation to manufacture aircraft.

With the flight, the official Xinhua News Agency said China had become "one of the world's top makers of jumbo aircraft", the fourth large jet producer after the US, Europe and Russian Federation. The aircraft, Comac's C919, has 158 seats, and is designed for medium range flights.

Orders have already been placed for more than 500 of the planes, with commitments from 23 customers, say officials, mainly Chinese airlines.

Plenty of nations worry that China's state-owned enterprises don't have to worry about little things like making a profit, which is felt to give them an unfair advantage.

1/3: China's aviation market still has a ways to go.

The plane also relies on an array of overseas technology, with CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric's GE.N aerospace arm and a unit of French firm Safran SAF.PA , supplying the engines. "We are a supplier, customer, competitor and business partner to China's aviation industry".

China has taken pride in developing the homegrown jumbo jet, regarding it as a symbol of national strength. "It has a great impact for the Chinese people and the domestic market", Xiong Yuexi, a professor and plane design expert at Beihang University in Beijing told Reuters.

However, according to commentators, the programme was years, if not decades behind aircraft made by Airbus and Boeing that were cheaper to fuel and easier to maintain.

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.

It is expected that China will take delivery of more than 5,500 new aircraft worth $670 billion in the next 20 years.

The International Air Transport Association estimates China will overtake the United States as the world's top aviation market by 2024.

Merluzeau also expressed confidence in the future development of COMAC, the Shanghai-based manufacturer of the C919.


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