China’s new jetliner completes final tests & ready for take off
The first large Chinese passenger jet, the C919, has passed a crucial test and is expected to make its first flight in May. The plane is part of China’s ambitious plan to become one of the world’s biggest aircraft manufacturers.
High-speed taxiing tests at speeds of 230 - 260 kilometers per hour were carried out at Pudong International Airport when the pilots lifted the nose of the jet into the air and slammed on the brakes. They had to show the aircraft can stop safely on the runway in case of emergency.
"The test marks the C919 has finished all necessary taxiing tests before its maiden flight," said Wu Guanghui, the chief designer and deputy general manager of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC).
The twin-engine C919 was unveiled last November at a roll-out ceremony in Shanghai. It can carry up to 158 passengers and has a range of 4,075 kilometers. A longer range version can fly up to 5,555 kilometers.
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COMAC started developing the C919 in 2008 and expects to produce about 2,000 planes. It has reportedly received 570 orders for the jet from 23 customers.
The new narrow-body airliner is roughly the same size as Airbus's A320 and Boeing's 737-800 and is expected to compete with them.
“The C919 is targeted as a competitor to the Airbus A320 and also the Boeing 737. This is a very significant program for China. It's basically a major push for the country which wants to be known as a major player in the aviation manufacturing sector," said Mavis Toh, Asia Air Transport Editor for Flightglobal.
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China’s experience in creating large aircraft was limited by a four-engine narrow-body jet airliner known as the Y-10. The plane was developed in the 1970s by the Shanghai Aircraft Research Institute but never got past the prototype stage.
According to the 2016-2035 Global Market Forecast presented by Airbus, Chinese airlines will need about 6,000 new jets worth $945 billion over the next two decades.
Beijing plans to unveil several types of larger airplanes in the near future.