C-919: China's first passenger plane completes maiden flight

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A China Eastern Airlines jet taxis near a Chinese C919 passenger jet before its scheduled first flight at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, Friday, May 5, 2017.

Built by state-owned aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), the plane represents almost a decade of effort in a government-mandated drive to reduce dependence on European consortium Airbus and USA aerospace giant Boeing.

The aircraft is expected to compete with the updated Airbus A320 and the new-generation Boeing B737 now dominating the domestic passenger jet market. It's now unlikely to carry commercial passengers until at least 2019.

Around 3,000 people were at Shanghai's Pudong International Airport to watch the C919-which is built by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMCAR)-take off on an 80-minute flight before returning home, Reuters reported.

The single-aisle plane is created to carry between 155 and 175 seats, and fly 2,530 miles (4,075 km). Boeing and Airbus each have backlogs of thousands of their own single-aisle planes and struggle to increase production.

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.

Within only 10 days, China has successively launched its first home-made aircraft carrier and large passenger plane, showing its determination to implement "Made in China 2025", a plan to transform China from a manufacturing giant into a world manufacturing power.

Comac says it has 570 orders from 23 domestic and foreign customers.

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The crucial step for C919 is to get a certification from Europe's aviation safety regulator to be able to survive successfully on the global market. He also said it would take about three years for the C919 to get an airworthiness certificate, after which COMAC is committed to produce 20-50 of the type annually. "For Honeywell, which has invested heavily in China's aviation industry, we are picking the victor", said Steven Lien, president of Honeywell Aerospace Asia Pacific.

Airbus has five joint ventures in China, including a factory that assembles A320s in Tianjin, a port city near Beijing, that opened in 2008.

China took a step toward the aviation big leagues Friday with the long-delayed, but finally successful, maiden flight of its first modern passenger jet.

The C919 is a competitor for Airbus' A320 and Boeing's 737 and will offer configurations of between 158 and 172 seats.

China starts a new era in the global airline industry by launching its first, homegrown jetliner.

However, the jet likely faces a lengthy journey from first flight to commercial usage.

The smaller regional jet is a rival to aircraft made by Bombardier Inc. of Canada and Brazil's Embraer SA.

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