… Commercial jet completes first long-distance flight

By Sunday Elom

Gradually China is intensifying effort to consolidate recent gains made in aeronautics in its quest to remain a world power.

The country’s self-developed C919 passenger jet has just completed its first long-distance flight.

The manufacturer of the jet said the completion of the distance flight marks the plane’s move into an airworthiness certification phase.

In a statement the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC), the C919 flew for 2 hours and 23 minutes from Shanghai to the central Chinese city of Xi‘an, traveling more than 1,300 km (800 miles) and reaching an altitude of 7,800 meters (25,590 feet).

China plane-maker said the country wants to use the jet to compete with Boeing’s 737 and the Airbus SE A320, and it serves as a symbol of China’s civil aerospace ambitions, noting that it will remain in Xi‘an to undergo further testing.

COMAC in the statement further said, “This ferry flight indicates that the C919 possesses the ability to fly inter-city routes. It marks the move into research and development flight-testing and airworthiness certification work.”

It was however learnt that the jet’s latest flight is the sixth test since it flew for the first time on May 5. However Analysts have questioned the long-time gaps between test flights.

Meanwhile, COMAC said it is aiming to obtain certification for the plane from Chinese regulators as well as Europe’s aviation safety regulator, which had earlier in April agreed to start the certification process.

It further stated that it planned to eventually test six C919 planes and will carry out the first flight for its second jet by the end of this year. Meanwhile, the plane currently has 27 customers who have placed orders and commitments for 730 jets.

Author: Yemi Olarinre