What C919 means to China jet industry and domestic airlines

A midsize passenger plane developed by China as a national project made its successful maiden flight on Friday after long delays, paving the way for its developer's attempt to break into the global market.

With 150 to 170 seats, the C919 will compete with Boeing's B737 and Airbus's A320. The engine, as well as electronic devices for flight control, wheels, brakes and many other components are made in the US or Europe.

Albeit three-years late, the take-off at exactly 2pm followed a five-minute ceremony on the tarmac that saw five crew members, led by 41-year-old captain Cai Jun, board the gleaming new aircraft.

China is one of the biggest aviation markets, but relies on foreign-made aircraft and has long sought to enter the lucrative global jet market, which is estimated to be worth $2 trillion over the next 20 years.

The C919, a twin-engine airliner created to compete with the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737, took off from Shanghai's Pudong worldwide airport in the early hours of Friday.

The successful flight of the indigenously-made aircraft made China the world's fourth jumbo jet producer after the US, Europe, and Russian Federation, the state media reported.

The jet's development is a key step on the path laid out by Chinese leaders to transform the country into a creator of profitable technology.

China's home-grown narrow bodied passenger plane took to the skies on Friday, announcing Beijing's bid to acquire some elbow room in an aviation market, which has so far been dominated by giants Boeing and Airbus. The State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, which manufactured the C919, has received 570 orders for the C919 from23 clients.

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.

The first large Chinese-made passenger jetliner C919 is.

"With the rapid development of China's economy, there is demand for at least 2,000 of the aircraft", Fu was quoted by the Shanghai Securities News as saying.

His call to arms is emblazoned on the wall of the jet's production facility: "Accelerate the construction of the world's top aviation company and continue to make new contributions to develop a strong aviation industry".

Airbus had delivered 153 aircraft to Chinese operators in 2016, its seventh consecutive year of more than 100 deliveries, AirbusChina said earlier this year. "It is a major milestone of China's aviation market", China's State Council said in a statement.

The flight follows a week after the country launched its first domestically made aircraft carrier and docked a cargo spacecraft with an orbiting space lab. The committee has proven the C919 is technically airworthy but the jet is still subject to electromagnetic compatibility and taxiing tests before it takes to the air, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Vanessa Coleman

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