C919 completes its maiden flight

The C919 single-aisle jet, which can hold up to 168 passengers, soured over Pudong worldwide airport in the commercial hub Shanghai as a crowd of thousands cheered.

The C919 - whose key parts include engines and avionics systems provided by 15 worldwide companies such as General Electric and Honeywell - has received 570 orders from 23 foreign and domestic customers, including China's national carrier Air China and leasing company GE Capital Aviation Service.

The plane is seen as competition to Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 passenger jets in the most popular single aisle segment.

The aircraft's maker, state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., or Comac, will seek certification from China's civil aviation authority and foreign regulators before making any deliveries.

It has a range of 5,555 kilometres (3,444 miles) and has received 570 orders, nearly all from domestic airlines.

The successful flight moves China one step closer to transforming itself from a manufacturer of low-priced goods to a creator of advanced technology. The prototype wasn't unveiled until November 2015, and the project has been beset by technical delays as China learns the ropes of airliner development.

Comac itself functions as the main vehicle in implementing large passenger aircraft programs in China.

China has taken pride in developing the homegrown jumbo jet, regarding it as a symbol of national strength.

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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 worldwide market.

The maiden test flight of the C919 airliner is scheduled to take place at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Friday, according to China's official news agency Xinhua.

China's first indigenous passenger jet made its maiden flight on Friday, Reuters reported.

At the same time, China's aviation market is growing rapidly as a rising middle class travels more for leisure and business.

Comac said more than 200 Chinese companies and 36 universities have worked together to develop the C919 aircraft.

The "C" in the aircraft's name stands for both China and COMAC, while 9 symbolizes "forever" in Chinese culture, and 19 represents the 190 seats at maximum capacity. The C919 is, indeed, designed and meant to compete with the Airbus A320 family and the Boeing 737 family.

"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.

But the jet likely faces a lengthy journey from the first flight to commercial usage. That smaller jet is a rival to aircraft made by Bombardier Inc. of Canada and Brazil's Embraer SA.

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