In pictures: C919, China’s answer to Airbus A320 and Boeing B737, set to make debut flight

A New York-based C919 could potentially fly the aircraft to the US West Coast, as far south as Bogota and as far north as Vancouver.

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 February, 2017, 9:35pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2017, 9:51am

The first Chinese-developed passenger jet, the Comac C919, is Beijing’s answer to the Airbus A320 and Boeing B737 and hopes to break Western planemakers’ domination of the aviation market.

China’s marquee passenger jet can carry 175 passengers and has a range of 5,500km, and first rolled off the assembly lines Shanghai in November 2015.

Thepaper.cn also reported that the first C919 was delivered to the trial flight centre on Christmas Day in 2016. People’s Daily confirmed on Monday that the C919 was set to make its debut flight in the first half of this year.

The project, launched in 2008, despite having suffered repeated delays in its early days, have received 570 orders from 23 customers including Air China, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern and Citic Financial Leasing.

According to a report by the Post in 2015, delivery to its first customer, ICBC Leasing, was expected to come after 2018. Comac also said that China might see 6,865 planes delivered by 2035.

Although the plane was domestically developed and assembled, 16 foreign companies provided core components. The Post reported that China provided US$482 million in parts for American aircraft manufacturers in 2014.

With a maximum range of 5,500km, a New York-based C919 could potentially fly the aircraft to the US West Coast, as far south as Bogota and as far north as Vancouver.

China has long wanted to develop its own jets and challenge Boeing and Airbus’ global dominance in the aerospace manufacturing business that is worth trillions of dollars.

Industry insiders say it would be a long way before the C919 is seen competing against Western models in international skies, with certification being a key barrier for its export and pilot shortage another.