China’s first homegrown passenger plane made its maiden flight on last Friday afternoon. The world manufacturing superpower has hitched much of its hopes on the 168-seat C919 jet, as its toe into a world dominated by America’s Boeing and Europe’s Airbus.
Made by state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), the C919 faced a three-year long delay due to production issues.
The country’s aerospace industry has only recently started to make its own large passenger jets. The country tried to make the defunct Shanghai Y10 in the 1980s but it failed to be viable; more recently, Comac’s ARJ-21 regional airliner made its first commercial flight in 2015.
So on Friday, 3.3 million users on China’s Weibo social network tuned into the official livestream of the flight.
Comac says it has 570 orders from 23 domestic and foreign customers. Most are state-owned Chinese airlines. The handful of foreign customers includes GE Capital Aviation Services and Thailand’s City Airways. Comac is currently working with Russia’s state-owned United Aircraft to develop a bigger long-haul jet — designated the C929. Both companies said in November that they have started the hunt for suppliers and they’re aiming to conduct a maiden flight for the C929 in 2022.
The jet’s development is a key step on the path laid out by Chinese leaders to transform the country from the world’s low-cost factory into a creator of profitable technology. At the same time, China’s aviation market is growing rapidly as a rising middle class travels more for leisure and business.
Source: Mashable/ CCTV+