15.4 C
New York
Saturday, September 30, 2023

Buy now


China’s first domestically-made airliner makes maiden flight | Aviation News

China’s first domestically-made airliner has completed its maiden commercial flight, marking a milestone in the country’s decades-long battle with Western rivals in the skies.

China Eastern Airlines flight MU9191 “smoothly arrived” in Beijing at 12:30pm (04:30GMT) on Sunday from Shanghai, about 10 hours ahead of schedule, China’s state broadcaster CCTV reported. 40 minutes.

Beijing wants the C919 commercial jet to challenge foreign models such as the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320. Its first indigenous jetliner with large-scale commercial potential will also reduce the country’s reliance on foreign technology as relations with the West sour. However, many of its parts are still sourced from abroad.

Chinese President Xi Jinping hailed the project as a triumph of Chinese innovation, while state media touted the plane as a symbol of industrial prowess and national pride. “In the future, most passengers will be able to choose to travel on large domestic aircraft,” CCTV said.

The C919 is the product of the state-backed Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), which began developing the jet 15 years ago.

“Smooth, comfortable and memorable”

Video showed passengers leaving the plane and entering the terminal before dozens of staff and officials posed for photos in a brief ceremony on the tarmac.

The flight was “very smooth, comfortable and memorable. I think I will remember it fondly for some time to come,” a male passenger told CCTV.

The broadcaster showed footage of the plane ascending into the sky above Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport, which it said had 130 passengers on board.

State media footage showed passengers gathering at the sun-soaked Shanghai airport to admire the sleek white jet before boarding.

Passengers received red boarding passes and “themed meals” to mark the flight, CCTV reported.

Other footage showed passengers waving flags and singing patriotic songs as they cut a cake during the flight.

“After several generations of hard work, we have finally broken the Western aviation monopoly and got rid of the shame of ‘a Boeing 800 million shirts,'” the state-owned Beijing Daily wrote, referring to the economic downturn some 40 years ago. At the beginning of the reform period, China mainly produced low-value commodities.

Flight tracking app Variflight showed the C919 took off at 10:32 a.m. (02:32 GMT) from Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, home to COMAC and China Eastern Airlines, and landed in the Beijing capital two hours later Airport.

“I have full confidence in the plane. The flight was smoother than expected,” one of the passengers told CCTV as he disembarked.

Aviation enthusiasts gathered at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport to witness the maiden flight of COMAC C919 [Aly Song/Reuters]

“New Generation Aircraft”

The plane was scheduled to return to Shanghai on Sunday before making a longer return flight to the southwestern city of Chengdu on Monday.

Lu Boyuan, a 21-year-old student and aviation enthusiast, flew to Chengdu at Shanghai Airport on Sunday, and he plans to return from Chengdu on the C919 the next day.

“I’ve been really looking forward to it flying, especially because it’s a new generation aircraft, unlike similar aircraft from Boeing and Airbus, which have been around for many years,” Lv said.

After years of delays, the C919 first flew in 2017 and has undergone numerous test flights since then.

State-backed China Eastern Airlines placed an order for five jets in March 2021. The company delivered the first in December and said it expects to receive the remaining planes this year.

Although assembled in China, the C919 relies heavily on Western components, including engines and avionics from companies such as General Electric Co, Safran and Honeywell International.

“Major Milestone”

From Monday, the C919 will operate on China Eastern’s regular route between Shanghai and Chengdu, CCTV reported.

State media hailed the delivery of the first narrow-body jet to China Eastern as “an important milestone” for China’s aviation industry.

Zhang Yujin, deputy general manager of COMAC, told Shanghai’s state-backed digital newspaper The Paper in January that the company had secured orders for about 1,200 C919s.

Asia and China, in particular, are key targets for European manufacturer Airbus and its U.S. rival Boeing, which is looking to capitalize on growing demand for air travel from the country’s large middle class.

Last month, Airbus said it would double its production capacity in China and signed a deal to build a second A320 final assembly line in Tianjin.

The first assembly plant in the northern city opened in 2008 and produces four A320s per month. Airbus hopes to increase that number to six per month by the end of the year.

Li Hanming, an independent expert on China Airlines, said that most of the C919 orders are letters of intent from domestic customers. “The domestic market is big enough for the C919,” Li said.

Greg Waldron, executive editor for Asia at trade publication FlightGlobal, said the international market was questionable given that neither European nor US regulators had authorized use of the plane.

“Until then, major international markets will be closed to the C919,” he said.

The C919’s predecessor, the ARJ21, is a short-haul 90-seat aircraft that entered commercial service in 2016 and is operated by major Chinese airlines and Indonesia’s TransNusa.

The use of the ARJ21 in Indonesia shows that the C919’s international future lies primarily in developing countries, Waldron said.

COMAC is also cooperating with Russia to develop the CR929 wide-body jet.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Stay Connected

- Advertisement -spot_img

Latest Articles