China's largest jetliner test drone completes maiden flight

2017-04-22 14:43 GMT+8 1067km to Beijing
Editor Gao Yun
‍By CGTN's Jin Zixiong
Sparrow-B, a drone replica of a larger passenger plane China hopes to develop in the near future, completed its maiden flight in the city of Jingmen in central China’s Hubei Province on April 21. 
The Sparrow-B takes off./ Photo provided by Wang Ganglin, China Aeronautical Establishment
The Sparrow project runs parallel to aircraft development operations by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. (COMAC). On November 18, 2013, the Sparrow-A aircraft completed its first test flight. Sparrow-B, the country's largest test aircraft for passenger planes, was made partly through 3D printing technology. It has a wingspan of over six meters and a maximum takeoff weight of 240 kilograms.
Team members take a group picture after the Sparrow-B’s trial flight./ Photo provided by COMAC
The in-house team named "Vision Work" behind Sparrow is made up of young engineers with an average age of 34 years old.
Team leader Zhang Chi, 30, hopes that conducting tests using Sparrow aircraft will help reduce the cost of plane testing. The project is being done in cooperation with several domestic aviation institutions, including China Aeronautical Establishment and Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics. 
Sparrow flights aim to test aerodynamic features and other parts of plane design that COMAC plans to use for the development of passenger jets. 
The C919 aircraft is a COMAC-developed narrow-body airliner designed to accommodate over 150 passengers. Earlier this week, it passed its last review by experts before its maiden flight. Its main rivals in the market will include Airbus 320 and Boeing 737. A test flight of the aircraft is expected before the end of the first half of this year. COMAC also plans to start developing wide-body aircraft in 2017.
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