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China takes fight to Boeing and Airbus with successful passenger jet test

  • The single aisle twin-engine jet flew 800 miles across China
  • After a long-distance flight, the C919 will now move toward international certification
  • The C919 is viewed as a rival to Boeing's 737 and the Airbus A320.
A C919 passenger jet takes off from Pudong International Airport for its maiden flight, on May 5, 2017 in Shanghai, China.
VCG | Getty Images
A C919 passenger jet takes off from Pudong International Airport for its maiden flight, on May 5, 2017 in Shanghai, China.

China's domestically developed passenger jet has completed its first long-distance flight.

The C919 took off from Shanghai Pudong International Airport on Friday and flew for nearly 2 hours and 30 minutes before landing 800 miles away at Xi'an Yanliang testing base in the Shaanxi province.

The aircraft has a layout of 158 to 168 seats, and a maximum range of around 3,400 miles. It is viewed as a natural rival to Boeing's 737 and the Airbus A320.

In a statement reported by local media, the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC) said the flight "marks the move into research and development flight-testing and airworthiness certification work."

Although viewed as Chinese-built, the engines are French-U.S.-built while the navigation and communication system is provided by U.S. firm Rockwell Collins.

COMAC said in September that it has orders for 730 C919s from 27 clients. All the customers are Chinese except for the Irish-American GE Capital Aviation Services, which has made 10 firm orders with an option to buy 10 more.

COMAC plans to produce six test aircraft, with the second expected to make its maiden flight at the end of this year.

The jet has now completed six flights in total and, in April, Europe's aviation safety regulator agreed to begin the certification process.