BEIJING (Reuters) – A second prototype of China’s home-built C919 passenger jet took off for a test flight in Shanghai on Sunday, state television reported, another step forward in the country’s ambitions to muscle in to the global jet market.
A total of six prototypes will eventually conduct test flights, China Central Television reported, with engine tests to be a particular focus.
The aim was to conduct another long-distance test flight in late January, chief engineer Wang Wei was quoted as saying. More than 1,000 tests would be carried out.
The narrow-body aircraft, which will compete with Boeing’s <BA.N> 737 and the Airbus <AIR.PA> A320, is a symbol of China’s ambitions to penetrate the global passenger jet market, estimated to be worth $2 trillion over the next 20 years.
The C919 made its maiden flight on May 5 after numerous delays. Analysts have questioned the long periods between previous test flights.
It completed its first long-distance flight on Nov. 10, flying for 2 hours and 23 minutes from Shanghai to the central Chinese city of Xi’an, covering more than 1,300 km (800 miles) and reaching an altitude of 7,800 metres (25,590 feet).
Its manufacturer, the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC) [CMAFC.UL], called the maiden flight a milestone that marked the plane’s move into an airworthiness certification phase.
COMAC is aiming to obtain certification for the plane from Chinese regulators as well as Europe’s aviation safety regulator, which agreed in April to start the certification process.
The plane has dozens of customers who have placed orders and commitments for 785 jets, COMAC has said.
(Reporting by Judy Hua and Benjamin Kang Lim; Editing by Paul Tait)