China’s first large passenger plane completes maiden flight

China’s first domestically built passenger plane has completed its maiden flight after eleven years of development.

The C919 jet made its first ever flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Friday 5 May.

The narrow-body with a twin-engine successfully took off into the sky at 2pm local time amid much excitement in the crowd.

The flight lasted for one hour and 20 minutes, with the aircraft reaching 10,000 feet and speeds of 315kph.

The flight marks a key milestone for a country seeking a place in the global aviation market.

China, although one of the biggest aviation markets, relies on foreign-made aircraft and has long sought to enter the global jet market.

The market is believed to be worth around $2trillion [£1.5trillion] over the next 20 years.

The C919 jet was made by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and reportedly cost around $6.5billion [£5.05billion].

It has the capacity to seat 168 passengers and has a range of up to 5,555km.

The maiden test flight had in fact been pushed back several times since 2014 due to production issues.

The flight on 5 May included a skeleton crew of five people and carried no passengers.

Aviation analyst Tom Ballantyne told Al Jazeera that the flight represented a “huge moment” for China.

He said: “It is important for the Chinese government to show that its industrial processes are on par with the west or are heading in that direction”.

The Chinese plane is touted to rival the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.

However, Jeff Cheng, a spokesman for COMAC, told Reuters news agency that this was still a long way off.

It is believed the C919 will need to ‘prove itself’ first before any major western airline will consider purchasing it.

TNT News

Photo Credit: New China TV

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