China’s C919 aircraft completed its first pre-delivery test flight in Shanghai, taking its maker a step closer towards offering a substitute to Boeing’s 737 and Airbus’ A320 single-aisle commercial aircraft in the global aviation market. The Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) completed a three-hour test flight at the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai on Saturday morning, according to a statement on its website. “This marked a successful test flight of the first C919 plane ahead of its delivery to the first customer,” Comac said. “The flight test completed all the scheduled tasks, and the aircraft performed well and was in good condition.” The successful test flight is a boost for state-owned Comac, which received 28 customer orders for as many as 815 C919 aircraft, according to its website. The test showed how Shanghai’s authorities are determined to get business activities back on their feet, after sending the city into lockdown since April 1 . As many as 3,000 of Comac’s staff had been working under “closed-loop” conditions – where they had to undergo daily tests for Covid-19 and sleep on site to ensure zero contact with outsiders – to get the aircraft to its flight-ready stage, the manufacturer said. Shanghai’s hometown carrier China Eastern Airlines is poised to take delivery of five of the C919 aircraft, bought at a catalogue price of US$99 million each in a March 2021 agreement. China’s third-largest carrier plans to use the new aircraft on domestic routes from Pudong to Beijing, Guangzhou. Shenzhen and Chengdu, China Eastern said. China is among the world’s fastest-growing civil-aviation markets, and the C919 is the nation’s ambitious attempt to manufacture its first commercial jetliner to meet its own rising demand. The success of the project would be economically beneficial for China, as it could break the country’s dependence on the duopoly currently enjoyed by Boeing and Airbus, and has the potential to catapult Comac into the multibillion-dollar aviation industry. C919 was highlighted by President Xi Jinping in his 2017 report to China’s legislature during the 19th National Congress, to serve as a driver of China’s “new model of development,” along with other scientific achievements. China’s aviation industry has a steep climb to ‘Made in China 2025’ goals Comac started developing the C919 in 2008, but missed the previous deadline of delivering its first plane by the end of 2021. While the C919 marks China’s effort to reduce reliance on Airbus and Boeing, the aircraft still depends on foreign companies like General Electric and Honeywell for many critical parts. As relations between Beijing and Washington DC have soured, the US government has tightened its regulations over the sales of aviation products to China, potentially adding hurdles to the development of the C919. How Beijing plans to lead the world with ‘Made in China 2025’ On January 14, 2021, the US Department of Defence added nine Chinese companies, including Comac, to its list of “Communist Chinese military companies”. Under an earlier executive order signed in 2020 by then president Donald Trump, American investors were prohibited from certain transactions in securities related to certain listed companies. Comac is not a publicly traded company, but it has sold bonds in the Chinese securities market. Earlier in 2020, the US government was weighing whether to deny General Electric’s request to provide the LEAP engines for the C919. It eventually approved the licence for the jet-engine sales after the then President Donald Trump said the US should not prevent companies from supplying jet engines and other components to China.