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China-Made Passenger Jet Readies for Takeoff
Published on: 2017-04-20
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031A Chinese designed and built large passenger jet passed expert assessment Tuesday, placing it closer to takeoff and positioning China a step forward in breaking the aviation duopoly held by Boeing and Airbus.

The narrow-body C919, produced by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China Ltd., passed its second high-speed taxiing test, usually deemed as the last step before a maiden flight, the manufacturer reported.

The company did not give a time estimate, but Eastmoney, a financial news website, said Haitong Securities Co. Ltd. predicted the plane would take flight before the end of 2017.

An assessment panel of 25 experts from Chinese research institutes, the civil aviation administration, and domestic jet makers gave unanimous approval of the C919's technical parameters and preparedness of aircraft crew and ground services in a series of tests Tuesday.

On Sunday the aircraft passed an initial high-speed taxiing trial at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, after passing a major technical assessment in March.

030A Chinese C919 passenger jet sits on the runway during its high-speed taxi test at Shanghai Pudong International Airport in Shanghai.

The C919 is China's first commercial single-aisle large civil aircraft, with a capacity of 158 to 174 seats, and a standard flight range up to 5,555 kilometers, according to COMAC.

The plane caught the attention of international civil aircraft experts after its first public showing in November 2015, leaving analysts debating whether it would compete with major international manufacturers Airbus and Boeing.

China will soon be the world's biggest aviation market and a key battleground for aircraft makers, an Airbus report said in November.

Airbus forecast last year that China will need nearly 6,000 new passenger aircraft and freighters from 2016 to 2035, with a total market value of $945 billion. This represents 18% of global demand over the next 20 years.

A C919 prototype was delivered to COMAC's Shanghai flight test center in December. The company said it has received a total of 570 orders from 23 customers, including domestic giants China Eastern Airlines Corp. Ltd., China Southern Airlines Co. Ltd., and Air China Ltd., and aviation financing giant GE Capital Aviation Services.

The ARJ21, a smaller regional jet developed by COMAC, began flights in June 2016.

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