China’s C919 passenger jet makes first commercial flight
The C919 is China's first domestically produced passenger jet.
China's first domestically made passenger aircraft lifted off on its inaugural commercial flight, marking a watershed moment in the country's drive to reach for the skies.
Its first homegrown jetliner with mass commercial potential would also cut the country's reliance on foreign technology.
"In the future, most passengers will be able to choose to travel by large, domestically produced aircraft," state broadcaster CCTV said.
China Eastern Airlines flight MU9191 reached the skies above Shanghai Hongqiao Airport on Sunday morning, footage from CCTV showcased, and was due to land in Beijing in the early afternoon.
The plane is carrying over 130 passengers, as per CCTV.
Hundreds of passengers gathered at the sun-drenched Shanghai runway to ogle the sleek white plane, according to footage published by official media.
They then filed into the narrow-body plane which taxied to the runway prior to its take-off.
Passengers were given red boarding cards and would be treated to a delicious "themed meal" to remember the journey, CCTV added.
China has made significant investments in domestic jet manufacture as part of its efforts to become self-sufficient in vital technologies.
It is worth noting that the aircraft is made by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC).
The C919 will operate on China Eastern's regular route between Shanghai and the southwestern city of Chengdu starting Monday, CCTV reported.
Last year, the first model of the narrow-body plane, which seats 164 passengers, was formally handed over to China Eastern during a ceremony at a Shanghai airport, which state media hailed as "an important milestone" for the country's aircraft sector.
Zhang Yujin, COMAC's deputy general manager, told state-backed Shanghai outlet The Paper in January that the company had taken around 1,200 orders for the C919.
Zhang stated at the time that COMAC intended to boost yearly production capacity to 150 models within five years.
Asia, and particularly China, are significant goals for both Airbus and its American rival Boeing, who are trying to capitalize on the country's expanding middle-class demand for air travel.
Airbus said last month that it will increase its production capacity in China, securing a contract to build a second final assembly line for the A320 in Tianjin.
The first assembly plant in the northern city launched in 2008 and now produces four A320s each month, with Airbus planning to expand that to six by the end of the year.