China's First Homegrown Passenger Jet C919 off the Production Line

Dated: November 03, 2015

China has rolled out its first homegrown large passenger jet off the production line in Shanghai, vowing to challenge the dominance of Airbus and Boeing in the global commercial aviation market. About 4,000 people, including senior Communist party leaders, engineers and journalists, gathered at a hangar near the city’s Pudong international airport for the unveiling of the 158-seat C919.

At the ceremony, a shiny C919 -- sporting a largely white fuselage with a blue wavy stripe and a green tail -- was towed beneath a banner with the phrase "a dream takes off" and past a huge Chinese national flag.

The C919 -- a twin-engine, narrow-body aircraft seating up to 174 people -- is similar in size to the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737 series of jets, long the workhorses for airlines around the world.

With a flying range of up to 5,555 kilometers (3,451 miles), it is designed to compete head-to-head with its Airbus and Boeing rivals, and said to easily cover popular business and leisure routes from China such as Shanghai to Singapore and Beijing to Bangkok.

The development of China’s first large passenger jet has huge symbolic value for the Communist party as President Xi Jinping pursues what he calls the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”.

“A great nation must have its own large commercial aircraft,” Li Jiaxiang, the head of China’s civil aviation authority, told those invited to the plane’s unveiling ceremony, according to Bloomberg. “The air transportation industry of China cannot completely rely on imports,” he said.

But hard-nosed commercial interests also lie behind China’s bid to launch its first narrow-body jet.

China’s aviation industry has experienced turbo-charged growth, with the number of airports expected to rocket from about 200 to 240 in the next five years.

CB

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