China’s first large passenger jet prepares for its maiden flight
The C919, regarded as China’s answer to the Boeing 737 and Airbus 320, is expected to make its maiden flight on May 5, according to the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC). It is China’s first domestically-built large passenger jet.
The plane will take off from Shanghai's Pudong International Airport.
"If weather conditions are not suitable, the flight will be rescheduled. Engineers have completed over 118 tests and are prepared for the maiden flight," COMAC said.
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.
COMAC has received 570 orders from 23 foreign and domestic customers, according to the Chinese media. However, the vast majority of orders is from local carriers.
According to CNN, though the C919 is regarded as a home-made plane, many of the components are made in the US, France, and Germany. This includes the electrical system and landing gear, which are produced in the US by Honeywell International.The engines are designed by the US-French joint venture CFM International.
Before China’s C919, only the US, Russia, Brazil, Canada, the UK, France, and Germany had developed large homegrown airliners.
China’s experience in large aircraft construction was limited by a four-engine narrow-body jet airliner known as the Y-10, which resembles the Boeing 707. The plane was developed in the 1970s by the Shanghai Aircraft Research Institute but never got past the prototype stage.
According to Airbus' 2016-2035 Global Market Forecast, Chinese airlines will need about 6,000 new jets worth $945 billion over the next two decades.
China has a plan to overtake the US by 2030 as the world's largest commercial aviation market.