The first large Chinese-made passenger jetliner has taken off on its maiden test flight, a symbolic milestone in China’s long-term goal to break into the Western-dominated aircraft market.
The C919 is touted as a rival to single-aisle jets such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. The plane was originally scheduled to fly in 2014 and be delivered to buyers in 2016. It has been beset by delays blamed on manufacturing problems.
If Friday’s maiden flight is successful, the aircraft’s maker, state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., or Comac, will then seek certification from China’s civil aviation authority and foreign regulators.
The jet’s development is a key step on the path laid out by Chinese leaders to transform the country into a creator of profitable technology.