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China debuts homegrown C919 jet outside mainland

HONG KONG (AFP)China’s new domestically produced passenger jet made its debut outside the mainland on Wednesday, 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.

The sleek, narrow-body aircraft, now on display at Hong Kong International Airport, will fly over the city’s Victoria Harbour on Saturday.

China’s domestically produced C919 passenger jet is on display to the media at Hong Kong International Airport on December 13, 2023. PHOTO: AFP

Chinese authorities hope the C919 — built by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC) — will challenge foreign models like the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320.

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.

The exhibition will welcome media and guests on Wednesday, 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 on Saturday morning if weather permits, the government added.