Homegrown C919 jet makes debut in Hong Kong

The C919 has received more than 1,000 orders. — AFP

Hong Kong: China’s new domestically produced passenger jet made its debut outside the mainland yesterday, with international media in Hong Kong getting their first up-close look.

The C919 made its maiden commercial flight in May and is key to Beijing’s decades-long ambitions to compete with Western rivals in the air and cut down China’s reliance on foreign technology.

Chinese authorities hope the sleek, narrow-body aircraft – built by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) – will challenge foreign models like the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320.

Now on display at Hong Kong International Airport, the C919 will fly over the city’s Victoria Harbour on Saturday.

Hong Kong leader John Lee yesterday hailed the development of the C919 and the ARJ21 – a smaller, earlier model made by Comac – as “important milestones” in China’s aviation sector.

“China’s successful development of a large passenger jet symbolises its leading position in the transportation manufacturing industry,” Lee said at a welcoming ceremony at the airport.

The C919 has received more than 1,000 orders, he added.

China has invested heavily in the homegrown jetliner as it seeks to become self-sufficient in key technologies, but many of the C919’s parts are sourced from overseas.

The jet received official certification to fly last year after more than a decade in development but has yet to secure any international buyers.

Reporters and guests were invited to tour the plane yesterday, with the following two days reserved for visits from local community representatives.

The C919, which landed in the city on Tuesday, will fly around Hong Kong Island twice Saturday morning if weather permits, the government added. — AFP

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