Beijing/Shanghai: China’s first indigenously built passenger aircraft C919 on Sunday successfully completed its first commercial flight, marking its official entry into the civil aviation market as part of the country’s bid to compete with Western rivals like Boeing and Airbus.
The first commercial flight of C919 from the eastern metropolis of Shanghai to Beijing was operated by the state-run China Eastern Airlines.
The plane carried 128 passengers on board. The flight time between Shanghai and Beijing was about two hours and twenty-five minutes, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The single-aisle, twin-engined aircraft has 164 seats.
The plane was greeted with a water salute after touching down at Beijing Capital International Airport at 12:31 pm on Sunday, the report said.
The water salute ceremony is performed as a symbol of respect and honour for the aircraft, its crew, and passengers.
The C919 is China’s first self-developed trunk jetliner in accordance with international airworthiness standards and owns independent intellectual property rights.
The C919 is developed by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and it was granted a type certificate by the Civil Aviation Administration of China last September.
With a range of up to 5,555 kilometres, the C919 will take on Airbus and Boeing, the world’s major aircraft manufacturers.
It will be a direct competitor to their A320 and B737 narrowbody jets, most commonly used for domestic and regional international flights, CNN reported.
“The first commercial flight is a coming-of-age ceremony of the new aircraft, and C919 will get better and better if it stands the test of the market,” Xinhua quoted Zhang Xiaoguang, director of the marketing and sales department of COMAC, as saying.
The plane conducted a successful maiden flight in 2017.
In the following years, the C919 conducted several test flights in different locations to test its capabilities.
The C919 has gone through tests in various types of extreme natural environments including high temperature, high humidity, severe cold, gusts and freeze.
Its safety, reliability, and environmental protection performance have been comprehensively assessed, the Xinhua report said.
On December 9, 2022, the first C919 aircraft was delivered to its first customer, China Eastern Airlines.
After the delivery, the C919 jetliner completed its 100-hour aircraft validation flight process, comprehensively verifying its reliability with commercial operation in mind, the report said.
The C919 had received 1,035 orders from 32 customers by the end of 2022, according to the Science and Technology Commission of Shanghai.
Officials say the entry of Chinese aircraft could reduce the reliance on Boeing and Airbus and could pose a competition to them in the international civil aviation market.