China’s first passenger plane makes first commercial flight

BEIJING (AP) — The first passenger plane made in China made its first commercial flight on Sunday, as China seeks to compete with industry giants such as Boeing and Airbus in the global aircraft market.

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

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

While COMAC designed many parts of the C919, some of its key components are still sourced from the West, including its engine.

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

The C919, in development for 16 years, has a maximum range of around 3,500 miles and is designed to carry between 158 and 168 passengers.

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

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