China’s C919 passenger jet completes first long-distance flight

COMAC plans to eventually test six C919 planes and will carry out the first flight for its second jet by the end of this year. (Reuters)
Updated 10 November 2017
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China’s C919 passenger jet completes first long-distance flight

SHANGHAI: China’s self-developed C919 passenger jet completed its first long-distance flight on Friday, in a milestone that its manufacturer said marks the plane’s move into an airworthiness certification phase.
The Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) said in a statement the C919 flew for 2 hours and 23 minutes from Shanghai to the central Chinese city of Xi’an, traveling more than 1,300 kilometers and reaching an altitude of 7,800 meters.
The jet, which China wants to compete with Boeing’s 737 and the Airbus A320, is a symbol of China’s civil aerospace ambitions. It will remain in Xi’an to undergo further testing, the planemaker said.
“This ferry flight indicates that the C919 possess the ability to fly inter-city routes,” COMAC said in the statement. “(It) marks the move into research and development flight-testing and airworthiness certification work.”
The latest flight is the plane’s sixth test since it flew for the first time on May 5. Analysts had questioned the long time gaps between previous test flights.
COMAC is aiming to obtain certification for the plane from Chinese regulators as well as Europe’s aviation safety regulator, which in April agreed to start the certification process.
COMAC said it planned to eventually test six C919 planes and will carry out the first flight for its second jet by the end of this year. The plane currently has 27 customers who have placed orders and commitments for 730 jets, it added.


France’s Total has officially left Iran: oil minister

Updated 20 August 2018
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France’s Total has officially left Iran: oil minister

  • Total said it would be impossible to remain in Iran unless it received a specific waiver from Washington, which was not granted
  • Total would have been highly vulnerable to US penalties for remaining in Iran
TEHRAN: French energy giant Total has officially quit its multi-billion-dollar gas project in Iran, Oil Minister Bijan Namdar Zanganeh said on Monday, following the reimposition of US sanctions.
“Total has officially left the agreement for the development of phase 11 of South Pars (gas field). It has been more than two months that it announced that it would leave the contract,” he told parliament’s news agency ICANA.
Zanganeh also appeared before parliament to underline the dire state of Iran’s oil and gas facilities, which he said were “worn out” and in need of renovation that Iran could not afford.
The United States said in May that it was abandoning the 2015 nuclear deal and reimposing sanctions on Iran in two phases in August and November.
The second phase will target Iran’s oil industry.
The other parties to the nuclear deal — Britain, France, Germany, China and Russia — have vowed to stay in the accord but their companies risk huge penalties if they keep doing business in Iran.
Total had already said it would be impossible to remain in Iran unless it received a specific waiver from Washington, which was not granted.
Total signed up in July 2017 for the $4.8 billion project to develop the field off Iran’s southern coast, as the lead partner alongside the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) and Iran’s Petropars.
It was due to make an initial $1 billion investment, but the company said in May that it had spent less than €40 million on the project to date, as uncertainty over US actions mounted.
Total would have been highly vulnerable to US penalties for remaining in Iran.
The company has $10 billion of capital employed in its US assets, and US banks are involved in 90 percent of its financing operations, Total said in May.
It remains unclear whether CNPC will take over Total’s stake in the project.
Iran remains wary of relying on Chinese firms after bad experiences in the past. A previous contract for CNPC to develop the field at South Pars was suspended in 2011 after it failed to make progress.
The urgent need for investment to upgrade Iran’s dilapidated energy infrastructure was a key motivator behind its decision to join the 2015 nuclear deal.
Zanganeh appeared in parliament on Monday to answer questions on safety concerns following a number of recent fires at refineries.
“A big part of the oil industry has been worn out and the necessary renovation has not taken place,” he told parliament, according to the official IRNA news agency.
He said there were 10 cases per day of tubes perforating in Iran’s southern facilities, and that some refineries were as much as 80 years old, “whereas the useful life of an industrial unit is 30 years.”
“We have no resources for renovating them,” he added.