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May 4, 2017

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China’s passenger jet set for takeoff

CHINA’S first domestically built narrow-body passenger jet is due to make its maiden flight from Shanghai tomorrow.

The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China said the C919 single-aisle aircraft will leave from the Pudong International Airport’s fourth runway, weather conditions permitting.

Some flights may be affected, according to the East China Regional Administration under the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

It has organized a support team with Shanghai Airport Authority to coordinate flights and cope with any potential delays.

The C919, which has 168 seats and a range of 5,000 kilometers, will compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 and signals the country’s entry into the global aviation market as a strong competitor.

The plane has completed taxiing tests at the Pudong airport and has passed expert technical appraisal. “Engineers have completed over 118 tests and are ready for the maiden flight,” a COMAC official said.

The company has received 570 orders for the aircraft from 23 foreign and domestic customers, including China’s national carrier Air China and leasing company GE Capital Aviation Service.

Other overseas orders, which account for about 10 percent of the total, include airlines from Germany (PuRen Airlines) and Thailand (City Airways), as well as carriers from the Asia-Pacific and Africa.

It is estimated the C919 will begin commercial operations around 2020, said Lin Zhijie, a civil aviation analyst.

The central government had approved the development of a homegrown large passenger jet in 2007, and the first C919 rolled off the assembly line in Shanghai in November 2015.

China has invested heavily in commercial passenger jet manufacturing. The ARJ21, its first regional aircraft, began commercial operations in June last year.

ARJ21 is short for “advanced regional jet for the 21st Century,” while C919 means “China’s everlasting jet with a maximum 190 seats.” The capital “C” also symbolizes the ambition to compete with Airbus and Boeing, according to COMAC.

The company is also working on the nation’s first wide-body passenger aircraft which will have 280 seats and a range of 12,000 kilometers, said He Dongfeng, its general manager.


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