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C919: Chinese-built passenger jet completes first flight - DW - 05/28/2023

Original source (on modern site) | Article images: [1]

China's first domestically produced passenger jet made its maiden commercial flight on Sunday when a China Eastern Airlines C919 flew from Shanghai to Beijing.

The journey marks a milestone in the nation's decadeslong effort to compete with Western rivals in the aviation sector.

Red tickets, themed meal for passengers

The C919 plane took off from Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai at 10:32 a.m. local time (0232 GMT), bound for Beijing Capital Airport, according to flight tracker app Variflight.

State broadcaster CCTV said the jetliner was carrying 130 passengers.

The broadcaster said the flight "arrived smoothly" in Beijing just after 12:30 p.m., around 40 minutes ahead of schedule.

"I'm confident about the plane. The flight was smoother than expected," one of about 130 passengers told CCTV as he disembarked.

Passengers received red boarding passes and a sumptuous "themed meal" to commemorate the flight, the TV channel reported.

After a turnaround of 1 hour 40 minutes, the plane was scheduled to fly back to Shanghai.

From Monday, the C919 will operate on China Eastern's regular route between Shanghai and the southwestern city of Chengdu, CCTV reported.

China's aviation ambitions soar

The C919 is built by the state-owned Commercial Aviation Corp of China (COMAC).

COMAC began developing the C919 15 years ago to rival the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX single-aisle jet families.

Although the jet is assembled in China, it relies heavily on Western components, including engines and avionics.

The C919 made its first flight in 2017 after years of delays and has conducted numerous test flights before Sunday's first commercial flight.

COMAC has received around 1,200 orders for the C919, mostly from domestic airlines, according to local media.

The jetliner is unlike to win significant orders from abroad until it is certified by US or European aviation regulators.

The C919 has a strong order book from domestic airlinesImage: AFP via Getty Images

State-backed China Eastern Airlines ordered five C919 jets in March 2021 and took delivery of the first plane in December.

COMAC expects to be able to produce 150 C919 planes a year in five years, according to local media.

China has previously produced a short-haul 90-seater ARJ21 aircraft, which is flown by Chinese airlines and Indonesia's TransNusa.

China, Russia plan bigger passenger jet

COMAC is also developing a CR929 widebody jet with two passenger aisles in collaboration with Russia, but the company has not issued any recent updates.

Asia and China, in particular, are key markets for both Europe's Airbus and its American rival Boeing due to the growing demand for air travel from the region's vast middle class.

Airbus said last month it would double its production capacity in China, signing a deal to build a second final assembly line for the A320 in Tianjin.

mm/fb (AFP, Reuters)

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