China unveils first homegrown passenger jet

5 Nov 2015 by Clement Huang

The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) has unveiled its first aircraft, the C919, which the company hopes will one day be able to compete with Boeing and Airbus.

With a seating capacity of 156 to 174, the C919 is a narrow-body aircraft that offers a range of up to 2,999 nautical miles (5,555km) – similar to Airbus’ A320 family and Boeing’s B737 line.

While China’s aviation market has experienced tremendous growth over the past few years, it still relies on Airbus and Boeing aircraft.

In a report by Al Jazeera, China’s civil aviation chief Li Jiaxiang was quoted as saying that this had to change during the C919’s unveiling ceremony earlier this week.

"China's air transport industry cannot completely rely on imports. A great nation must have its own large commercial aircraft," said Li.

Test flights for the C919 are expected to begin in 2016, but industry officials told AFP that it would be years before the aircraft would enter service.

“There's a lot of work to do still," said Briand Greer, president for Asia-Pacific of Honeywell Aerospace, manufacturer of four key systems used in the C919.

"[There is still] a lot of testing, a lot of flight testing, systems integration testing and of course all the certification [to be done]."

So far, more than 500 orders of the C919 have been made, with the likes of China Eastern Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Air China expected to take delivery of the aircraft in the coming years. 

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Clement Huang

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