Published: Tue, May 09, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

More C919 jets to be assembled for flying tests

China's 158-seat, narrow-body aircraft passenger jet, the C919, made its maiden flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Friday afternoon, representing arguably the country's boldest attempt yet to break the global aviation stranglehold that Airbus and Boeing has on the international market.

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.

A China Eastern Airlines jet taxis near a Chinese C919 passenger jet before its scheduled first flight at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, Friday, May 5, 2017.

The C919's first test flight was pushed back at least twice since 2014 due to production issues, and a further 4,200 flight hours are planned in the test campaign.

Built by state-owned aircraft corporation Comac, the C919 is created to seat 155-175 with a range of 2,530 miles.

Comac says it have received around 570 orders, nearly all of them from domestic companies.

Comac has applied for Type Certification for the C919 from both the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the European Aviation Safety Agency.

China took a major step toward becoming a global aviation powerhouse as its homegrown large passenger plane, the C919, took to the sky in Shanghai on May 5.

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The country's ever-increasing travel market is expected to surpass the US market by 2024, according to the International Air Transport Association.

The official Xinhua News Agency said China had become "one of the world's top makers of jumbo aircraft", behind the US, Europe and Russian Federation, while the event was live broadcast on state-owned channel CGTN.

China's high-speed railway has been an important market theme, and there is no reason why the home-grown jet story can not become another powerful trading concept.

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

There is still a long way to go down the road to a globally competitive aerospace industry, however. "It has a great impact for the Chinese people and the domestic market". To meet that demand, Boeing predicts China will need 6,800 new airplanes, valued at $1 trillion, over that time period, as its economy and middle-class continue to grow. The Shanghai-based company is also aiming to have the plane certified by United States and European regulators.

While the 39-metre long plane is made in China, foreign firms are playing key roles by supplying systems as well as engines.

"The biggest challenge is that the whole manufacturing experience still needs improvement because this is the first time China is making a primary route plane", Bao said.

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