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China-made C919 passenger jet to make first flight outside mainland

China’s first domestically produced large passenger jet will conduct a flyby over Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour next week as part of the aircraft’s first showcase outside the mainland. 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. The jet, manufactured by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), also will be displayed at the Hong Kong International Airport from December 12 to 17, city leader John Lee announced on Tuesday. “On December 16, the C919 will conduct a flyby above the Victoria Harbour. The public can together witness the first time the C919 soars above Hong Kong,” Lee said in his weekly meeting with reporters. Beijing “chose Hong Kong to be the first city for the C919 to visit outside the mainland”, he added. COMAC’s smaller, older ARJ21 jet will also be exhibited in Hong Kong during the six-day period. China has invested heavily in production of the homegrown C919 jetliner as it seeks to become self-sufficient in key technologies. Beijing hopes the single-aisle C919 will challenge foreign models like the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320, though many of its parts are sourced from abroad. The jet first started development in 2008 but only received official certification to fly last year. The C919 has yet to secure an international customer, while the ARJ21 is operated in China and Indonesia, Bloomberg News reported. COMAC’s deputy general manager Zhang Yujin told state media in January that the company had taken around 1,200 orders for the C919. COMAC planned to increase annual production capacity to 150 models within five years, Zhang said at the time.

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