China's first locally manufactured passenger plane takes to the skies

However, aviation experts have warned that getting the plane from the test flight to mass production could pose difficulties.
By Harry Marcolis | May 07, 2017
China's first domestically manufactured passenger plane completed its maiden flight on Friday.

Amid much celebration, the slim body, twin-engine C919 successfully took off the Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 7 am BST.

The single-aisle plane has been hailed as China's response to the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320, as the Communist nation aims to compete with western airlines.

The passenger plane's flight is China's first step towards independence from Boeing and Airbus.

Sporting white, green and blue colors, the aircraft reached 10,000 feet with a maximum speed of 170 knots (196 miles per hour or 315 kph).

According to Huanqiu.com, an affiliation to People's Daily, the aircraft had no passenger seats installed, and instead carried a "large number of devices" to collect data points during the maiden flight.

Huanqiu reported that the C919 was operated by a five-member team during the first flight. The crew members included two pilots, one observer, and two engineers.

The craft is built by Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC), a Chinese state-owned aviation manufacturer located in Shanghai.

Ironically, COMAC obtained most important parts of the aircraft from European and US companies such as GE and Honeywell.

China's plan is to replace all 6,000-6,800 of its Western aircrafts at an estimated cost of $1 trillion.

China is a mammoth battleground for Boeing and Airbus. Both companies congratulated China on the flight.

According to the International Airport Transport Association, the country's travel market is expected to overtake the United States by 2024.

However, aviation experts have warned that getting the plane from the test flight to mass production could pose difficulties.

The experts are skeptical of how much value China will earn from the billions of dollars it has poured into developing the craft, as the c919 may not obtain the European and US certification needed for flights into most international markets.

 

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