Seven years in the making, China’s first 737-800-sized jet is about to take its first flight.
It’s a big day for aviation in China on Friday. The country’s first large passenger jet, called the C919, is about to take its first flight. The plane, which is about the size of a 737-800 from Boeing or an Airbus A320, will take off from Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG). It holds about 168 people.
It’s been a long time coming to get to this point. The state-owned airline in China decided to buy the plane in 2010, and it was supposed to be in the air already. Instead, no one saw a prototype until November 2015. Multiple technical issues have delayed the flight even further. About two weeks ago, the plane was finally able to complete its ground trial, which assures that if something goes wrong, the jet can stop on the runway safely. From here, there will be months or years of more tests to ensure it meets standards, and possible design changes for safety reasons.
It may be a new experience for China, but these delays, tests, and changes aren’t unheard-of. Boeing and Airbus have also faced massive delays in the past while trying to bring new aircraft to market.
China is hoping to produce more of these passenger jets, and wants to be a top producer in the industry throughout the world. But the country still has a lot of work to do on that front as well; so far the only orders for planes have come from domestic sources.