Saturday, 6 May 2017

China unveils jet to rival Boeing and Airbus

First Chinese-built passenger jet C-919 completes 'beautiful' maiden flight

The first Chinese-built passenger jet has taken to the skies for a politically charged maiden flight that authorities claimed would propel the country into a new era of aviation.

The C919, a twin-engine airliner designed to compete with the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737, took off from Shanghai’s Pudong International airport just after 2pm on Friday and landed back there again 80 minutes later.

The symbolic flight, which the government has celebrated as further evidence of China’s rise, was broadcast live on state-controlled television.

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China’s Answer to Boeing and Airbus Takes Its First Flight
China-built aircraft C919 makes successful maiden flight

China’s answer to Boeing and Airbus flew for the first time Friday in Shanghai, an achievement that shows both how far the country has come and how far it still remains from building a competitive airliner.

State press treated the takeoff of the C919, one of China's first homegrown passenger jets, from Shanghai's Pudong airport this afternoon like the U.S. did space launches in the 1960s. Coverage of the flight led CCTV all afternoon. A live cam was broadcast from the C919’s cockpit. Top Party officials attended the takeoff, in what was billed as seminal achievement in China's ambitions to build technically sophisticated goods for itself and the world. The plane landed safely after flying for 80 minutes.

The question on the minds of most consultants and airline executives wasn’t whether the Chinese would ever get the C919 airborne after it was announced in 2008 - but whether anyone other than state-owned Chinese airlines would want to buy the plane once it did.

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China's first domestically made passenger jet is a warning to Boeing and Airbus
Attendees take photos in front of a Chinese C919 passenger jet after its first flight at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai. Credit: Andy Wong/Reuters

Thousands of workers, government officials and aviation enthusiasts gathered to cheer as China's C919 passenger plane touched down at Shanghai's international airport Friday after its maiden trip to the sky.

State media broadcast the test flight all across the country, and Chinese officials heralded it as the start of a new era.

Chairman Mao Zedong tried and failed to build a commercially viable passenger plane in the 1970s, but the dream persisted. The government created the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) in 2008 with this specific goal in mind.

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China’s answer to Airbus, Boeing completes Shanghai maiden flight

China’s home-grown narrow-bodied aircraft passenger jet, the C919, made its maiden flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Friday, representing arguably the country’s boldest attempt yet to break the global aviation stranglehold that Airbus and Boeing have in international aviation.

Albeit three-years late, the take-off, at exactly 2pm, followed a five-minute ceremony on the tarmac that saw five crew members, led by 41-year-old captain Cai Jun, board the gleaming new aircraft.

It flew to Nantong, about 100 kilometres from Shanghai, before making a U-turn to land back at Pudong airport at about 3:20pm. It has a range of 2,200 to 3,000 nautical miles (5,556 km).

related: China's home-grown Comac ARJ21 passenger jet enters commercial service

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China’s New Jetliner, the Comac C919, Takes Flight for First Time
A C919 passenger jet taking off at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai on Friday. The plane symbolized the industrial might of an emerging superpower — and its dream to dominate a new technological era. Credit Pool photo by Andy Wong

China’s commercial aerospace dreams took wing on Friday, as the first Chinese-built passenger jetliner completed its first public flight test, embodying the country’s ambitions to take on the industry champions, Boeing and Airbus.

With a brisk breeze blowing through light smog under overcast skies, a large crowd of government officials and aerospace executives gathered to watch as the C919, white with a green-and-blue striped tail, underwent a lengthy preflight check, then rumbled down a runway and into the sky for a test flight that lasted about an hour.

The aircraft landed safely, and Comac, its manufacturer, declared it a success. But the program still has a long journey ahead. It is emblematic of China’s challenge as it seeks to become a leader in aerospace and other critical technologies like electric cars, advanced microchips and artificial intelligence.

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Made-in-China jet takes maiden flight
A Chinese C919 passenger jet takes off on its 1st flight at Pudong International Airport in Shanghai. (Foto: REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool)

The 1st large made-in-China passenger plane took off on its maiden test flight Friday (May 5), marking a key milestone on the country's ambitious journey to compete with the world's leading aircraft makers.

The narrow-body C919 jet - white with green & blue stripes - disappeared into the clouds after taking off from Pudong international airport in the commercial hub Shanghai as a crowd of thousands cheered. It successfully landed some 80 minutes later.

Built by state-owned aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), the plane represents nearly a decade of effort in a government-mandated drive to reduce dependence on European consortium Airbus & US aerospace giant Boeing.

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China’s First Homemade Passenger Jet Makes Maiden Flight
China’s First Homemade Passenger Jet Makes Maiden Flight

On May 5, China’s first domestically manufactured large passenger plane, dubbed C919, successfully completed its maiden flight in Shanghai, despite the poor air quality triggered by a huge sandstorm from northern China.

As the plane smoothly landed in Pudong Airport after a 90-minute flight, the flight crew, wearing orange uniforms with the Chinese national flag sewn over the heart, emerged from the cockpit to applause. The captain, Cai Jun, told a reporter that the plane functioned very well and he would give the maiden flight a grade of 99 out of 100, “to be modest.”

Jin Zhuanglong, the chairman of Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) and chief commander of the C919 project, claimed that flying a homemade passenger plane is a “state will and national dream;” the success marks “a milestone in China’s civil aviation industry.”

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Development of C919, China’s first commercial jetliner
China's C199 prepares for maiden voyage

The maiden flight of C919, the first China built commercial passenger aircraft, will take place on May 5 at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport, subject to weather conditions.

The development and launching of this aircraft was several years in the making.

Let’s have a look at some milestones along the way in this first for Chinese commercial aeronautics.

related:
China-built aircraft C919 makes successful maiden flight
China's first domestically-produced jetliner to make its maiden flight
First of China’s C919 passenger aircraft completed

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China's C919 jet: from drawing board to take-off

China's first domestically-produced jetliner to make its maiden flight

China's C919 narrow-body jet makes its maiden flight on Friday, capping a decade-long effort to build a plane that Beijing hopes will compete against Boeing and Airbus.

Here is a timeline of the main events that took place in the run-up to the jet's first flight:
  • May 2008: China establishes Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) in Shanghai and announces plans to produce its first large commercial jetliner which it calls C919.
  • April 2009: COMAC finishes the C919's initial design and says it aims to send the jet on its maiden flight in 2014, according to the state-owned Beijing News.
  • Sept. 2009: COMAC unveils a model of the C919 aircraft for the first time at the Asian Aerospace Expo in Hong Kong.
  • Nov. 2010: China announces the C919 has received its first order - a deal for 100 planes.
  • Oct. 2013: Local media reports the C919's first flight will be delayed by a year until 2015, pushing first delivery dates to around 2017 or 2018.
  • May 2014: Chinese President Xi Jinping visits COMAC's offices and says large jets are a reflection of China's national capabilities and urges the development of a competitive aviation industry.
  • Feb. 2015: Xinhua reports COMAC has completed the basic assembly of its medium-range C919 large passenger aircraft and will launch test flights that year.
  • July 2015: COMAC delays the C919's maiden flight which was scheduled to fly by end-2015.
  • Nov. 2015: COMAC unveils the C919 in public for the first-time in a roll-out ceremony broadcast over state media.
  • Nov. 2016: COMAC said total orders for the C919 had reached 570 from 23 customers, made up of a mix of firm orders and options. China Eastern Airlines will be the jet's launch customer.
  • Dec. 2016: COMAC moves C919 to its test flight centre on Christmas Day.
  • March 2017: Xinhua news agency reports the C919 is technically ready for take-off.
  • May 2017: COMAC says jet will make its maiden flight on May 5.

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Is the New Chinese Airliner a Kind of Flying iPhone?
Illustration from Sina aviation news service of suppliers for China’s new C919 airliner

Earlier this week China’s state commercial-aerospace company, known as COMAC, rolled out the new C919 airliner it has been working on for years. I noted at the time that the plane’s debut was of course a significant step in China’s aerospace ambitions, and a deserved source of pride. But I also tried to explain why concerns that this meant imminent doom for Boeing and Airbus, as with a recent Seattle Times headline that “China Targets Puget Sound With New Plane,” were over-wrought, or at least tentative and many years premature.

The long version of why that’s so is what I laid out in my book China Airborne, which was a study of the larger problems the Chinese economy may have in shifting toward “rich country” industries like aerospace. (And which, I have to say, has stood up pretty well in the 3 years since its appearance.) The shorter way to get the idea is to take a look at the illustration above.

It’s originally from the Chinese news service Sina, and it’s a couple of years old, so details may have changed. But its main message is that all the most valuable and complex components in the C919 come from somewhere else.

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China to take on Boeing, Airbus with homegrown C919 passenger jet
 Amid much fanfare on live national television, China on Monday rolled its first homegrown large passenger jet off the production line in Shanghai, vowing to challenge the dominance of Airbus and Boeing in the global commercial aviation market

At the ceremony, a shiny C919 - sporting a largely white fuselage with a blue wavy stripe and a green tail - was towed beneath a banner with the phrase "a dream takes off" and past a huge Chinese national flag.

The C919 - a twin-engine, narrow-body aircraft seating up to 174 people - is similar in size to the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 series of jets, long the workhorses for airlines around the world.

With a flying range of up to 5,555 kilometers (3,451 miles), it is designed to compete head-to-head with its Airbus and Boeing rivals, and said to easily cover popular business and leisure routes from China such as Shanghai to Singapore and Beijing to Bangkok.

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Look out, Boeing! China’s new C919 plane which aims to take on the famous 737 and Airbus A320 will begin test flights this year
Assembly of the first prototype airframe is almost complete from nose through to the tail, and the wing-to-body join has also been done

China's new superjet will take to the skies for the first time in test flights later this year. The C919, built by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), will be the country's most ambitious effort to date to break into the global aircraft market. The latest pictures have shown the final assembly work on the nation's first single-aisle airliner, which is currently under construction in Shanghai, is well underway.

The single-aisle twin-engine jetliner has been designed to go head-to-head with Boeing's 737 and Airbus A320 in the lucrative aviation market. Assembly of the first prototype airframe is almost complete, says People's Daily, with the main landing gear and forward landing gear also now installed. Some major works - such as the installation of the avionics, flight control and hydraulics systems - are still to be completed.

The various systems will then have to be fully integrated and rigorously tested before the test flight, which is scheduled to happen before the end of this year. The various parts of the aircraft - including the nose, front and middle fuselage, wings and tail sections - were designed by the corporation and manufactured in Chengdu, Shenyang and Harbin. COMAC are reported to have already secured more than 450 orders from 18 different customers, most of which are believed to be local airlines and leasing firms. The manufacturer is targeting 2017 for C919 certification, with first deliveries also scheduled for that year.

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China’s New Passenger Airline C919 to Challenge Boeing, Airbus?
China demonstrated its first homegrown large passenger jet in Shanghai on Monday, vowing to challenge the dominance of Airbus and Boeing in the global commercial aviation market

The C919 is a twin-engine, narrow-body aircraft seating up to 174 people. It is similar in size to the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 series of jets. With a flying range of up to 5,555 kilometers, it is designed to compete with its Airbus and Boeing rivals.

The Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) began work on the twin-engine single-aisle back in 2006, after decades of attempts to create an advanced aerospace sector capable of suppressing the Airbus and Boeing duopoly.

So far, the C919 has received 517 orders, mostly from state-owned Chinese carriers and domestic aircraft leasing companies. The lack of certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is seen as a major deterrent for international sales.

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China unveils jet to rival Boeing and Airbus
The cabin of C919, China's first large domestically produced passenger jet, is shown at Zhuhai aviation exhibition, Guangdong Province, Nov 15, 2010. (SINA English/cfp)

China has unveiled its first large domestically produced passenger jet, which aims to compete with Airbus and Boeing in the global aviation market, state media reported Tuesday.

The C919 prototype made its debut at an aviation exhibition in the southern province of Guangdong, and three major state-owned airlines were due to sign deals to buy the planes on Tuesday, the official China Daily said.

The report did not disclose the names of the customers, but China's three main state-owned carriers are Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern.

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A CLOSER LOOK AT THE COMAC C919 – WHY DOES IT EXIST?
A model of the Comac C919- Photo: Jon Ostrower

It’s no secret that China is one of the world’s largest consumers of narrow-body aircraft. It is also no secret that China wants to be seen as capable of developing its own commercial airline industry. The Comac C919 is the answer to their problem. Unlike the ARJ-21, this aircraft is a much more ambitious affair.

Though still mostly constructed from aluminum, the aircraft features composite materials — at least in the wingbox. The Comac C919 has garnered 450 orders prior to the first airframe being completed, with the first flight expected towards the end of the fourth quarter this year. It looks, to the untrained eye, as if this program is off to a promising start.

Unpack the 450 orders, however, and the picture starts to look a little different.

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Superjet made-in-China: First look inside the C919 passenger plane as the country's home-made airliner makes its worldwide debut
The first C919 passenger jet is rolled out at the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd

China unveiled its first-ever passenger jet built and designed by the country today. The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. (COMAC), which is the state-owned aviation manufacturer, unveiled the first C919 aircraft at its factory in Shanghai, the People's Daily Online reports.

China - the second largest economy in the world - is now seeking the prestige of having its own aviation sector, and to challenge foreign giants Airbus and Boeing for market share. 
The single-aisle narrow-body jet is designed to seat 168 passengers, and has a standard flight range of 2,532 miles (4,075 kilometres), which means the aircraft can fly non-stop from Shanghai to Kuala Lumpur or from New York City to Los Angeles.

Its debut is considered by Chinese media as a breakthrough in the history of the country's civil aviation industry as well as the start of a new chapter in China's high-end equipment manufacturing. Journalists have already compared the brand new aircraft with the famous Boeing 737 and Airbus 320 passenger planes.

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China unveils passenger jet C919

China's first large passenger aircraft to be made in the country was rolled out of the final assembly line in Shanghai on Monday.

The C919 aircraft was developed by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, Ltd.

It is expected to make its maiden flight in 2016 and begin test flights for three years before commercial use.

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China’s Comac Gets More C919 Jet Orders
Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) sits in the cockpit of a model of a C919 passenger jet as he visits the design and research center of Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China in Shanghai, May 23, 2014. REUTERS

The finance leasing arm of China Merchants Bank Co. has placed orders to buy 30 C919 passenger jets from state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., in the initial order this year for China’s first homegrown commercial jet as the aircraft company struggles with repeated production delays.

The Chinese jet maker said Tuesday it signed an agreement to sell the jets to CMB Financial Leasing Co., a unit of China Merchants Bank and one of China’s financial lessors. The aircraft maker, known as Comac, didn’t disclose details on pricing or the date of delivery. China Merchants Bank declined to comment.

The purchase by a unit of midsize lender China Merchants Bank comes more than a year after Comac in October 2013 signed a deal to sell 20 C919 passenger jets to the finance leasing arm of China’s Industrial Bank Co. The latest deal will bring the total orders for the jetliner to 430 since its unveiling in 2010, when 100 of the jets were ordered by four major Chinese airlines, a Chinese leasing firm and GE Capital Aviation Services, Comac said.

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CHINA'S NEXT GENERATION JETLINER TAKES NEXT BIG STEP

This mockup of the C919's cockpit shows the advanced avionics available to the jetliner's pilots. The C919 will be equipped with multifunction displays, heads up displays (HUD) and other equipment that seem more at home in a modern fighter jet like a F-22 or J-20.

The C919 will be China's largest civilian aircraft and a key move for the nation into an area it has been dependent on foreign suppliers like Boeing and Airbus, up to now. On July 31, 2014, the Chengdu Aviation Corporation completed the C919 jetliner's nose and cockpit fuselage for the Commercial Airline Corporation of China (COMAC). The forward fuselage will join the mid body fuselage, which was completed in May 2014. At this rate, the C919 prototype is expected be assembled by December, once the rear fuselage and wings have been completed. The C919 will then be on pace to make a test flight in the second half of 2015 and enter into service in 2018.

The C919 is an important milestone for China's aviation industry, since its design includes the complex integration of domestic and foreign systems like the CFM LEAP engine and Honeywell avionics. The C919 uses several advanced manufacturing techniques, including 3D printed titanium wing spars. In addition to seating 180 passengers, it can also carry 20 tons of cargo. The key challenges facing COMAC are producing a cost and technologically competitor to the Airbus A320 and Boeing B737, as well as gaining regulatory and safety approval in the American and European markets. The systems integration and engineering experience gained from the C919 will enable COMAC to build the larger 300 and 400 set C929 and C939 jetliners, possibly in a joint venture with Russia's United Aircraft Corporation to compete in the lucrative widebody jetliner market that is now dominated by giants like the Airbus A330 and Boeing B777.

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C919 advanced cockpit systems draw all advantages of Boeing Airbus


China's first self-developed passenger aircraft C919 formal assembly line. It is reported that the flight system C919 machine in the world leading level, the avionics platform used similar technology with 787 and 777-X, and the flight control system is the use of the Airbus A320 family of aircraft with similar technical side lever. Therefore, C919 fly like a set from the world's most advanced technology of today to take flying platform.

Cockpit is a side lever through 30 In flight operations test, C919 pilots interact with the operating system for the side of the lever, Similar to the Airbus A320 driving operation. China President Hou Xiaofan from country subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. United Technologies aviation system (hereinafter UTAS), said, C919 cockpit operating system includes side bars, active side stick and throttle Taiwan. The current system has been test pilots and pilots nearly 30 years of testing and use. Currently there are about 12,000 aircraft worldwide using a similar system. Improved flight control system, with high reliability and maturity.

Have been reported have pointed out before, the aircraft industry test center, Air Force Test innings of five test pilots have been held in Chengdu Airlines modification training, access to China's civil aviation endorsement A320 driver qualifications, master telex, side lever operating technology, prepare for the test assembly side lever operating systems made large aircraft C919.

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Comac Tie-Up With Bombardier A Win-Win

It’s no secret that Comac faces several major challenges if it is to become the next big competitor to Boeing and Airbus with the C919 program.

First, it needs to produce aircraft for its testing program. After two schedule slippages, the first flight for the C919 is scheduled for 2015. Next, the C919 must be certified. And delays in securing approval of the ARJ21 regional jet, Comac’s other program, are holding up FAA recognition of Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) certification efforts. That casts doubt on the FAA’s eventual acceptance of the CAAC’s current work on the C919, and without Western airworthiness endorsement, the C919 will not see substantial sales outside of China. The latest estimate is for certification in late 2017 or early 2018. Given the history of other recent development programs, 2020 might be more realistic.

While these two challenges are receiving the lion’s share of media attention, an even larger and underappreciated challenge looms. In short order, Comac needs to create a competitive customer support function, including product support, field service, reliability engineering, aircraft-on-ground (AOG) support, spares, training, and repair and overhaul services. Creating a competent customer support function from scratch is incredibly difficult and will prove to be particularly nettlesome for Comac.

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COMAC And Bombardier Sign Definitive Agreement To Establish Commonality Opportunities Between C919 And CSeries Aircraft

Further to the framework agreement signed on March 24, 2011, Jin Zhuanglong, Chairman, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd (COMAC) and Pierre Beaudoin, President and Chief Executive Officer, Bombardier Inc. signed today a definitive agreement covering program commonalities between the C919 and CSeries aircraft. More specifically, the two leading aircraft manufacturers have agreed to cooperate on four distinctive projects to be executed as part of the first phase of COMAC and Bombardier’s long-term collaboration on the C919 aircraft and the CSeries families of commercial airliners.

The four initiatives on which COMAC and Bombardier will be collaborating as part of this initial phase are commonality on: 1) the cockpit human-machine (crew) interfaces, 2) the electrical system, 3) the development of aluminum-lithium standards and specifications, and 4) areas of customer services in terms of technical publications and co-location of teams. All four projects are expected to be completed over the next 12 months and in conjunction with the C919 aircraft development schedule.

This first collaborative phase further reinforces the strategic long-term relationship between COMAC and Bombardier and demonstrates the complementary nature of the C919 and CSeries aircraft programs. Both parties will continue exploring other possibilities for cooperation with regards to aircraft program commonalities, joint procurement, synergies in development and customer services, as well as collaboration on Bombardier and COMAC programs.

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COMAC’s C919 Struggles to Gain Orders and Altitude
The interior of the C919 in a mock-up at the Paris Air Show. Image by Steph De Wolf

Earlier this week Chinese aircraft manufacturer COMAC received twenty more orders for its new C919 aircraft. However, despite 400 orders, the narrow-body airliner, which aims to compete with the Airbus A319/20 and Boeing’s 737, has seriously struggled to attract buyers outside of China. It has also struggled just to get off the ground.

The latest order came from [another] Chinese leasing company, Industrial Bank Financial Leasing. The order joins several other Chinese leasing companies who’ve signed up for orders of the homegrown airplane. Joining the leasing companies, several airlines, again all Chinese, have also ordered the airplane, including Air China, China Eastern, and Hainan Airlines. The only non-Chinese order comes from GE Capital Aviation Services for twenty airplanes. As Scott Hamilton of Leeham New and Comment, notes, only 275 of the 400 claimed orders are currently firm, further complicating the order problem.

The C919 ultimately intends to disrupt the current duopoly between aerospace giants Airbus and Boeing, who’ve enjoyed a firm grip on the mid-capacity, mid-range aircraft market for decades. And like other aircraft from competing companies such as Russian manufacturers Ilyushin and Tupolev that have tried to break the lock over the years, the C919 has struggled to attract interest outside of its home country. Though the way the program has been progressing, it is not terribly surprising.

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Comac C919

The Comac C919 is a planned family of 158 - 174 seat narrow-body twin-engine jet airliners to be built by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac). It will be the largest commercial airliner designed and built in China since the defunct Shanghai Y-10. Its first flight is expected to take place in 2016, with first deliveries scheduled for late 2018. The first model off the production line was rolled out in Shanghai on November 2, 2015.

The C919 forms part of China's long-term goal to break Airbus and Boeing's duopoly, and is intended to compete against Airbus A320, Boeing 737 and Irkut MC-21. As a long term plan the twin‑engine, twin aisle C929 and C939 are proposed, offering 300 and 400 seats, respectively.

Comac applied for a type certificate for the aircraft from the Civil Aviation Authority of China on 28 October 2010. The company plans to conduct the first flight of the C919 in 2016, with deliveries beginning in 2018, whereas Marwan Lahoud, Chief Strategy & Marketing Officer of Airbus Group, assumes a competition outside China around 2020.

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After 13 years, China's home-grown Comac ARJ21 passenger jet enters commercial service

China's ambition of an indigenous plane took wings on Sunday as its first home-grown passenger jet, the Comac ARJ21, entered commercial service after 13 years in the making.

Configured with 90 economy-class seats, the jet was delivered to its launch customer, Chengdu Airlines, from Comac's Shanghai factory and flown to Chengdu by the airline's general manager Sui Mingguang and deputy manager Zhang Fang in an emotionally charged event bursting with nationalistic rhetoric.

"I am very proud to fly the first Chinese-made jet…It is not in any way inferior to the A320," said Zhang, the captain, upon landing, as reporters unleashed a volley of questions on comparisons with the bigger Airbus product.

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