Chinese rival to Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 completes successful first flight

The first large airliner designed and built in China successfully completed its maiden flight in Shanghai Friday. In a first for a test flight, a large audience in China and worldwide was able to follow the first flight live on TV and the internet, broadcast from the flight deck of the plane.

The first large airliner designed and built in China successfully completed its maiden flight in Shanghai Friday, a significant milestone in the country’s ambitions to become a power in commercial aviation and to begin to challenge the longstanding duopoly of Airbus and Boeing.

The jet took off from  at 11:00 p.m. PST Thursday from Shanghai Pudong International Airport with a five-person crew aboard and landed an hour and 19 minutes later.

In a first for a test flight, a large audience in China and worldwide was able to follow the first flight live on TV and the internet, broadcast from the flight deck of the plane.

The audience could listen to the pilot’s radio communications with the control center while watching a video broadcast that showed on a split screen the view over the pilot’s right shoulder and another outside view of the jet shot through a window of a chase plane.

Both Airbus and Boeing tweeted congratulations to the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), which built the C919.

Kevin McAllister, chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, also posted a message on Chinese microblogging website Weibo, which had carried the live feed of the flight, calling the event “an important milestone for Chinese aviation.”

The C919 is roughly the size of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and the Airbus A320neo.

Yet western experts believe it won’t put much of a dent in the market share of the dominant U.S. and European players.

Launched nine years ago and now running three years late, the C919 jet won’t enter service until 2019 or 2020.

The Airbus neo is already in service and has…

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