The C919 is touted as a rival to single-aisle jets the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.
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.
Comac’s C919 narrowbody airliner made its debut flight from China’s Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Friday, ending a year-and-a-half wait since its factory rollout in November 2015.
Meanwhile, low-priced home-built aircraft would also help Chinese airlines save costs and boost earnings.
State broadcaster CCTV aired live footage from the plane, which had no passenger seats installed for the maiden flight.
“If weather conditions are not suitable, the flight will be rescheduled”.
Chinese State television reported, before the flight, that the aircraft would not exceed an altitude of 3 000 m and not fly faster than 300 km/h. The jet flew over the Yangtze River and headed north, Reuters noted. One of the biggest components of the C919 jetliner – the core processing and display system – is being supplied by a joint venture between GE Aviation Systems and AVIC, a state-owned Chinese military contractor.
Others include Honeywell International Inc, United Technologies Corp subsidiary Goodrich, Rockwell Collins Inc and a unit of Parker-Hannifin Corp.
Orders have already been placed for more than 500 of the planes, with commitments from 23 customers, say officials, mainly Chinese airlines. The company will produce five more models (link in Chinese), with the first one coming in 2019 (link in Chinese). Comac also still hasn’t proven itself capable of producing high quality planes that can pass toptier Western safety inspections on part with the Boeing-Airbus duopoly.
The maiden flight brought congratulations from Boeing and Airbus which said it welcomes competition.
Last year, China started operating a smaller passenger jet ARJ21 on domestic routes, which was also developed by Comac.
China has dreamed of building its own civil aircraft since the 1970s when Jiang Qing, leader Mao Zedong’s wife and a member of the notorious “Gang of Four”, personally backed an attempt to do so.
China’s first amphibious aircraft, stated to be the largest in the world, successfully conducted its first glide test on April 29 in Chinese city of Zhuhai and braced for its maiden flight.
China’s experience in large aircraft construction was limited by a four-engine narrow-body jet airliner known as the Y-10, which resembles the Boeing 707.