Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) attends a welcome ceremony held by German chancellor Angela Merkel before an annual meeting between Chinese and German heads of government in Berlin, Germany, May 31, 2017. (Xinhua/Zhang Duo)
BERLIN, May 31 (Xinhua) -- Visiting Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday called on Germany to help China-developed large passenger plane C919 get an airworthiness certificate from the European Union.
Li made the call during his talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. He is on an official visit to Germany for an annual meeting between the two heads of government, a mechanism that has been in place since 2004.
The twin-engine C919 made a maiden flight on May 5 in Shanghai with five crew members on board but no passengers. The success makes China the fourth jumbo jet producer after the United States, Western Europe and Russia.
With a standard range of 4,075 km, the narrow-body jet is comparable with updated Airbus 320 and Boeing's new generation 737 planes, signaling the country's entry into the global aviation market.
China has taken pride in developing the homegrown jumbo jet, regarding it as a symbol of national strength.
In 2007, the State Council approved plans to develop a large passenger jet. In November 2015, the first C919 jet rolled off the assembly line. More than 200,000 technicians worked on the project.
A total of 23 foreign and domestic customers, including China's national carrier Air China, had placed orders for 570 aircraft as of May 5, according to COMAC, the manufacturer.
COMAC has to seek airworthiness certificates from domestic and foreign aviation safety regulators before making its first deliveries slated for around 2019.
Airworthiness is the measure of an aircraft's suitability for safe flight.