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China’s first domestically-made airliner completes first commercial flight


BEIJING (AP) — China’s first domestically-made passenger jet made its first commercial flight on Sunday as China appears to be competing with industry giants such as Boeing and Airbus in the global aircraft market.

The C919 aircraft, built by the Commercial Aviation Corporation of China, was carrying about 130 passengers on the flight, according to the state newspaper China Daily. The plane took off from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport on Sunday morning and landed in Beijing less than two hours later.

The flight was operated by state-owned China Eastern Airlines, and the side of the plane bore the words, “The World’s First C919.”

The inaugural flight comes as COMAC looks set to break into the single-aisle jet market in a direct challenge to Airbus and Boeing. Airbus’s A320 and Boeing’s B737 jets are the most popular aircraft typically used for domestic and regional flights.

Although COMAC designed many of the parts of the C919, some of the major components are still sourced from the West, including the engine.

The company plans to build 150 C919 aircraft each year for the next five years, according to previous state media reports.

The C919, which had been in development for 16 years, has a maximum range of approximately 3,500 miles (5,630 kilometers) and is designed to carry between 158 and 168 passengers.

More than 1,200 C919 jetliners have been ordered, COMAC says, with China Eastern Airlines under contract to purchase five.

Joanna Swanson

Joanna Swanson is Europe correspondent at the Thomson Reuters Foundation based in Brussels covering politics, culture, business, climate change, society, economies and inclusive tech. With specific focus in breaking news, she has covered some of the world's most significant stories.