Millions of flights take off and land in China every year, almost all of them using planes made by Boeing and Airbus, the world’s two leading aircraft manufacturers. For years, China has been working to change that and, this week, it celebrated a milestone in that quest: the first commercial flight of a large passenger jet made in China.
The C919 jet, made by Comac, a Chinese state-run aerospace manufacturer, flew about 130 passengers from Shanghai to Beijing for China Eastern Airlines on Sunday, according to Chinese state media. It is currently the only C919 plane being used for commercial flights.
Comac, or the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, was established in 2008. Based in Shanghai, it is closely linked to Avic, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, which makes the country’s turboprops, fighter jets and bombers. The C919 is a narrow-body plane comparable to the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.
Aviation experts said China faces stiff competition from the entrenched rivalry of U.S.-based Boeing and Airbus, a European company with national ownership stakes held by France, Germany and others. The two have dominated the sale of planes worldwide for years.