China’s home-grown C919 passenger jet completed its long-delayed maiden flight on Friday, a major first step for Beijing as it looks to raise its profile in the global aviation market and boost high-tech manufacturing at home.
Under overcast skies, the white, green and blue aircraft, with “C919” emblazoned on its tail, touched down at Shanghai’s international airport after an 80-minute flight to cheers from thousands of dignitaries, aviation workers and enthusiasts.
The jet is a symbol of China’s ambitions to muscle into a global jet market estimated to be worth $2 trillion over the next two decades, as well as of Beijing’s broader “Made in China 2025” plan to spur home-made products, from medicines to robots.
China’s home-grown C919 passenger jet taxis after landing on its maiden flight at the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China May 5, 2017. (Reuters)
“Seeing the C919 take off into the sky made me quite emotional. This is a moment we have waited to see for a very long time,” Wang Mingfeng, 42, who witnessed the maiden flight at the Shanghai airport, told Reuters.
“I believe that in the not too distant future, we will be neck-and-neck with Boeing and Airbus.”
At the moment, though, Boeing and Airbus remain far ahead in terms of sales, technical know-how and order books. And the C919, whose test flight was pushed back at least twice since 2014 due to production issues, may need years of tests to get certified in China, as well as in the United States and Europe.
Spectators take photos as they watch the Comac C919, China’s first large passenger jet, coming in for a landing on its maiden flight at Shanghai’s Pudong airport. (Reuters)