China’s home-built C919 passenger jet completed its third test flight on Friday morning, data from plane-tracking website Flightradar24 showed, bringing the Asian nation a step closer to its goal of becoming a global civil aerospace player. The flight comes 36 days after its previous test. On Friday, the plane took off at 7:37 a.m. (2337 GMT) from Shanghai’s Pudong Airport and landed at 11:25 a.m, well past the tracker’s initial estimate of 8:56 a.m., according to Flightradar24. The aircraft maintained an altitude of around 10,000 feet during most of the flight as it circled above Shanghai, the website’s data showed. The plane’s manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC), was not immediately available to comment. The C919, which will compete with Boeing Co’s 737 and the Airbus SE A320, is a symbol of China’s civil aerospace ambitions and President Xi Jinping’s push to upgrade the country’s manufacturing capabilities.
COMAC Vice President Shi Jianzhong previously said the time between the C919’s future test flights would be much shorter than the nearly five-month gap between the C919’s first and second flights. Plans for the third test flight, however, were delayed due to bad weather, a COMAC official said last month. The C919 is not expected to enter commercial service before 2020, Chinese-owned aircraft leasing company Avolon said in a report issued on Monday.