Sunday Saw a Big First for Chinese Aviation

First domestically made large passenger jet flew its maiden commercial flight
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 29, 2023 1:00 AM CDT
Sunday Saw a Big First for China's Aviation Industry
In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, a sign which reads "1st C919 inaugural flight" is seen in front of the Chinese made passenger aircraft prepared for its first commercial flight from Shanghai on Sunday, May 28, 2023.   (Ding Ting/Xinhua via AP)

China’s first domestically-made large passenger jet flew its maiden commercial flight on Sunday, as China looks to compete with industry giants such as Boeing and Airbus in the global aircraft market, the AP reports. The C919 plane, built by the Commercial Aviation Corporation of China, carried about 130 passengers on the flight, according to state-owned newspaper China Daily. The jet took off Sunday morning from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport and landed less than two hours later in Beijing. The flight was operated by state-owned China Eastern Airlines and the side of the plane was emblazoned with the words: “The World's First C919.” The BBC notes the aircraft does rely "heavily" on parts made in the West, including engines and avionics. Test flights of the aircraft began in 2017.

The inaugural flight comes as COMAC looks to break into the single-aisle jet market in a direct challenge to Airbus and Boeing. Airbus’ A320 and Boeing’s B737 jets are the most popular aircrafts typically used for domestic and regional flights. While COMAC designed many of the C919’s parts, some of its key components are still sourced from the West, including its engine. The company plans to build 150 C919 planes each year for the next five years, according to earlier state media reports. The C919, which had been in development for 16 years, has a maximum range of about 3,500 miles and is designed to carry between 158 and 168 passengers. Over 1,200 C919 jetliners have been ordered, COMAC says, with China Eastern Airlines under contract to buy five of them. China's first domestic jet, the much smaller ARJ21, has been in use since 2016. (More China stories.)

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