China downplays expectations from homemade C919 jet

China downplays expectations from homemade C919 jet

As China continues to make waves in the global commercial airliner market, the country conducted its first successful test flight Friday of the C919 passenger jet.

China finally launched its C919 airliner in Shanghai Friday after nearly three years of delays in a bid to take on the aviation duopoly of Boeing and Airbus.

In this November 2, 2015 photo, workers roll out the first C919 jet aircraft manufactured at the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd. (COMAC) in Shanghai. So far, demand for the jet has remained local: orders are nearly entirely from Chinese carriers for domestic flying.

The C919 is made by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., or Comac.

The twin-engine C919, whose name sounds like the Chinese word for "everlasting", has a range of 5,555 kilometers.

The successful flight signals China's entry into the global aviation market, and moves the country one step closer to transforming itself from a manufacturer of low-priced goods to a creator of advanced technology.

China - which has long had a goal of breaking into the Western-dominated aircraft market - on Friday tested its first large passenger jetliner.

The government hopes the C919 will prove a major competitor for aviation giants Boeing and Airbus, specifically the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

Reflecting the importance of the Chinese market - which buys more than 25 percent of Boeing jets and supports 150,000 U.S.jobs - the American firm opened its first overseas finishing center in China last March. Of the new planes, 75% are expected to be single-aisle.

The state company formed a 50:50 partnership previous year with Russian counterpart United Aircraft Corp to develop a longer-haul passenger plane, with the companies earmarking a maiden flight in 2022, with deliveries beginning as early as 2025.

According to Comac, a total of 570 orders for the aircraft have been obtained from 23 customers.

China's civil aviation regulator has issued a top-level red alert for mass flight delays that may hit the Pudong airport between 1pm and 3:30pm today.

The plane will be able to carry between 158-168 passengers, depending on seating layout, and is constructed mainly from aluminium.

It also wants to move into the global jet market, which is estimated to be worth $2 trillion over the next two decades.

Airbus has five joint ventures in China, including a factory that assembles A320s in Tianjin, a port city near Beijing, that opened in 2008. Those two aircraft have some 80 years' experience between them - 30 years for the A320 and 50 years for the Boeing 737.

"We believe C919 will bring new competition to the market", he said.

"What really impresses me with COMAC and with Chinese aerospace industry as a whole is that, we have traditional aerospace cycles in Europe and North America every 10, 15 years", Merluzeau said.

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