China’s C919 airplane prototype completes its first test flight

The sixth prototype of the C919 self-made passenger aircraft in China completed its first test flight on Friday, marking a milestone in the program’s test program, which is part of China’s efforts to compete with European Airbus (PA: AIR) SE and the American Boeing (NYSE: BA) Co. The sixth prototype is the last test aircraft that its manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC), has planned for the program and was scheduled to fly before the end of year. Currently, there are five planes that are conducting test flights in other parts of the country. Friday’s first flight from Shanghai lasted two hours and five minutes, COMAC said in a press release, adding that the plane will conduct more test flights centered on the cockpit, lighting and external noise. COMAC has already started the production of aircraft parts that will be used for the first batch of aircraft deliveries, he said. The state manufacturer aims to obtain Chinese certification for the C919 in 2021, but the date was subject to regulatory approval and airplane safety remains a top priority, according to COMAC representatives. He Dongfeng (HK: 0489), the leader of the Communist Party at COMAC, wrote in a state newspaper in December that aircraft safety is key to COMAC’s survival. Designed to compete directly with the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 families in the aircraft market with around 150 seats, the C919 is the spearhead of China’s efforts to break the prolonged western duopoly. The Boeing 737 MAX remains on land all over the world after two fatal accidents in which a total of 346 people died.

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