First Chinese-Built Passenger Jet Enters Service

First Chinese-Built Passenger Jet Enters Service
Last updated May 29, 2023
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons


  • The C919, China's first domestically-built large passenger jet, completed its first commercial flight on Sunday, flying from Shanghai to Beijing without complications under the China Eastern Airlines carrier.
  • The state-backed Commercial Aviation Corp of China (COMAC) has been developing the plane for 15 years, which presents the first Chinese challenge to Western aircraft manufacturers.
  • According to COMAC’s deputy general manager, Zhang Yujin, the company has received at least 1.2k orders as of last January, with the company hoping to expand annual production capacity to 150 models in the next five years.
  • The C919 is a twin-engine plane with a capacity of between 158 and 192 seats in a single-aisle layout, with a range of between 2.5k and 3.4k miles. The plane first rolled off the production line in 2015, with the first test flights occurring in 2017.
  • The expanding Asian middle class has increased competition in the Chinese market, with European manufacturer Airbus seeking to double production capacity in China.
  • The aircraft is likely to only see use in the Chinese domestic market and in developing countries for the time being, with the aircraft lacking regulatory approval from Western nations. Chinese media hailed the event as bucking the "West’s aviation monopoly."


Pro-China narrative

China has come a long way from the "800 million shirts for one Boeing" mindset during the early days of China's modernization, with the country finally able to start wresting control of the skies from Western manufacturers. This is a huge step forward for China's industrial independence and is a testament to the stellar technological and economic progress made.

Anti-China narrative

Most of the components used to build the C919 are imported from abroad, making proclamations of economic independence little more than patriotic puffery. What's worse, there is a strong case to be made that the plane was designed using stolen technology, as China's advanced industrial espionage program has been known to target Western aviation companies.

Establishment split



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