While the C919 is part of China's goal to break into the Western-dominated global aviation industry, U.S. experts believe the new Chinese-made passenger planes pose no threat to companies like Boeing and Airbus.
The flight is the latest sign of China's growing ambition and technical skill, coming one week after the country launched its first domestically made aircraft carrier and docked a cargo spacecraft with an orbiting space lab.
Before takeoff, CCTV state television said the plane that was built by state-owned aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) would be tested at an altitude of 3,000 meters, some 7,000 meters lower than a regular trip, and at a speed of around 300 kilometers per hour.
"All the activities made in the air are normal".
Cai Jun was the captain of the flight. "Boeing has 100 years, Airbus has over 40 years", said Sinolink Securities analyst Si Jingzhe, adding COMAC still lagged far behind in terms of supply chain know-how. China's first large homemade passenger jetliner is due to make its maiden flight from Shanghai later Friday, May 5, 2017.
The flight marks the culmination of a successful collaboration between Safran and China.
It can accommodate between 158 and 168 seats, and has a range of 4,075 to 5,555 kilometres. Since launching the C919 project, the plane's research team has made 102 technological breakthroughs in areas including integrated design of engines and systems control. It is expected to enter commercial service with China Eastern Airlines in 2019, and its maker, state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China says it already has 570 orders from 23 customers.
Experts predict that China will be the world's largest market for airplanes by 2024, requiring 6,800 new planes over the next two decades to satisfy its needs.
The narrow- body jet is comparable with the updated Airbus 320 and Boeing's new generation 737, signalling the country's entry into the global aviation market, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported. (The plane also has one US buyer: General Electric Capital Aviation Services, a supplier to the C919 program, ordered 20 planes from Comac.) And that's a small drop in the bucket compared to Boeing, which can roll out 400-500 Boeing 737's a year.
Mohshin said other potential customers would wait to see what experience the first customers have. "I can imagine the huge production ability once it starts production, by the size".
The crucial step for C919 is to get a certification from Europe's aviation safety regulator to be able to survive successfully on the worldwide market.
To take the market overseas, however, the C919 still has a long way to go. "They should all be considered before it is put into use in the market", Lin said. Final ground tests only concluded a few weeks ago, much later than the original schedule of a first flight in 2014, and aircraft delivery in 2016, wrote the media.