Chinese regulators have given the green light to the nation’s first homegrown large passenger jet, local media reported. Beijing hopes the aircraft will compete with foreign models like the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320.
According to reports and pictures posted on social media, the C919 narrow-body jet, manufactured by the government-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC), was certified at Beijing Capital Airport on Thursday.
Although the majority of the C919’s parts originate from foreign vendors, the aircraft represents China’s ambition to build an airliner with mass commercial potential, which would minimise reliance on foreign technology.
At a different gathering on Friday in Beijing, President Xi Jinping praised the initiative and referred to its participants as “pillars and great heroes of the country,” according to official media.
According to official broadcaster CCTV, Xi said the initiative “had made pleasing successes” and that China “must continue to focus on core technologies and pool our efforts to create major breakthroughs.
According to CCTV, he said, “Having China’s big aircraft soaring through the skies is an effort loaded with the will of the country, the dreams of the nation, and the expectations of the people.”
According to COMAC’s website, there have been 815 orders from 28 clients.After a protracted development phase, the COMAC ARJ21 regional jet, a forerunner of the C919 that accommodates up to 90 people, entered commercial service in 2008.
More than 300 Airbus aircraft have been ordered by Chinese airlines so far this year, according to the European company Boeing.
However, progress has been hindered by ongoing US-China trade tensions and China’s worst commercial plane catastrophe, which involved a Boeing 737-800 earlier this year.
Earlier this month, Beijing also imposed sanctions on Boeing’s top defence officer due to the company’s participation in US military sales to Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own territory.
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