In a historic moment for Chinese aviation, China’s first domestically built large passenger plane took to the sky for the first time earlier this afternoon.
TV news cameras and a large crowd were on hand at Shanghai’s Pudong airport to watch as the C919 shot down the runaway and took off into the wild grey yonder. The flight lasted 90 minutes with the plane hitting a maximum speed of 170 knots.
Manufactured by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), the C919 took more than a decade to design, construct and make ready for its maiden flight. Plagued by a number of delays, it was first unveiled to much fanfare back in November 2015, a year after it had been scheduled to make its first flight.
While the C919 is being hyped up in Chinese media as being “homegrown,” experts are quick to note that that doesn’t mean all the plane’s parts were made in China. According to Bloomberg, at least 15 foreign partners worked on components and systems which help the C919 to fly.
— Fercan Yalinkilic (@FercanY) May 5, 2017
The single-aisle, 168-seat aircraft is being cast as China’s answer to the Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320. Last year, COMAC told the media that it had already received 570 orders for the C919 from 23 customers. Of course, the majority of the orders were from government-run companies like Air China, China Southern and China Eastern Airlines. Meanwhile, 10% of orders have come from overseas airlines in Africa, Germany and Thailand.
It will still be a while before you’ll get the chance to take a flight aboard a C919 with the plane still needing to undergo various tests and safety checks.
[Images via NetEase]
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