China To Launch C919 Test Flights This Year
China's COMAC has completed the basic assembly of its medium-range C919 large passenger aircraft and is expected to launch test flights this year, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
Xinhua said state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, which is touting the aircraft as China's answer to airliners from Boeing and Airbus, had secured 450 orders from 18 customers. The agency gave no further details and COMAC executives were not available for comment during the Lunar New Year holiday.
China is keen to develop a successful commercial aircraft to prove it can match the United States and Europe. But it has been held back by inexperience, a shortage of local aerospace design and engineering talent, as well as a lack of home-grown companies with the technology to help drive the project.
Airbus has forecast China's domestic aviation market to become the world's biggest in the next decade.