China’s home-grown C919 passenger jet completes third test flight
The C919 passenger jet, built by China to rival other jumbo jets like Boeing’s 737 and the Airbus SE A320, has completed its third test flight. It brings China one step closer to becoming a major rival in the civil aerospace industry.
The C919 is a symbol of China’s civil aerospace ambitions and President Xi Jinping’s push to upgrade manufacturing capabilities.
In a statement, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC) said the plane took off at 7:38am (2338 GMT), flying for 3 hours and 48 minutes before landing at 11:26am. The flight came 36 days after its previous test.
Plans to build the aircraft first took shape in 2008 and production on a prototype started in 2011.
Despite completion in late 2015, its first test flights were delayed for over a year due to problems arising from Chinese engineers’ lack of experience in such huge projects and to technical obstacles.
It finally took to the skies for the first time in May this year and commercial deployment is planned for 2020.
Data from plane tracking website Flightradar 24 showed the aircraft flew at an altitude of about 3,000m for most of the time it circled above Shanghai. The website initially estimated a landing time of 8:56 a.m.
COMAC said the tests it completed during the flight included those on control of the plane’s landing gear.
COMAC successfully switched on the engines for a second C919 jet on Thursday evening, it added in the statement.
COMAC Vice President Shi Jianzhong has previously said the gap between the C919’s future test flights would be much shorter than the nearly five-month gap between its first and second.
That was far longer than for other planes, such as the Airbus A350, which had a five-day gap.
Last month, a company official said bad weather held up plans for the third C919 test flight, which had initially been expected within two weeks of the second.
The jet will have limited success in the West as it failed to pass US certification in 2015 after negotiations stalled due to various technical and bureaucratic issues.