China's 1st large homemade passenger jet taking to the skies

The C919 is touted as a rival to single-aisle jets the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.

It took Comac seven years to get its first aircraft, the regional ARJ-21 jet, into production after its debut flight in 2008.

China Eastern Airlines will be the first carrier to operate the C919 when it completes testing and secures approval from China's aviation regulator.

China in recent times has been making big breakthroughs in aviation with new fighter aircraft, including a stealth aircraft, but this is the first time it came out with a passenger plane. That is, China will need 5,110 single aisle planes - like the C919 - through 2035.

The successful flight of the C919 gives the Chinese aviation industry a boost of credibility, after initial plans called for the airplane to fly by the end of 2015.

China's homegrown large passenger plane, the C919, took to the sky on Friday, according to Xinhua.

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The C-919, built in Shanghai, took off from the city's Pudong airport on Friday afternoon, following a brief ceremony. The jet soon became invisible on a windy and polluted day in Shanghai, which was also in the path of dense sandstorms from the north.

After a flight lasting just over an hour, smiling test pilots disembarked to jubilation on the ground, where large screens beamed images of the airborne jet.

The C919 will seat 158 to 174 people, six abreast, and is meant to compete with the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 families of planes in the so-called single-aisle market. The plane was originally due to fly in 2014 before being delivered to buyers in 2016, but has been beset by delays blamed on manufacturing problems.

"If weather conditions are not suitable, the maiden flight will be rescheduled", COMAC said.

China hopes its airline industry can someday challenge the Western duopoly of Boeing and Airbus, especially for its own large and fast-growing domestic market. "This is a moment we have waited to see for a very long time". "You are not going to spend a lot of money on something you don't know", he said.

"The significance is huge, it's the first ever large-frame aircraft made in China", Xiong Yuexi, a plane design expert at Beihang University in Beijing said ahead of the launch. Most are state-owned Chinese airlines. When put into service, the plane is expected to carry between 158-168 people.

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While C919 is a home-grown aircraft, it has been dependent on foreign technology.

"I would say that a lot of their technology mirrors Airbus", he said.

"We believe C919 will bring new competition to the market", he said.

After years of delays, China's ambitions to challenge the USA and Europe when it comes to the commercial jet game is finally, quite literally, off the ground.

But it will take years to reach that destination, and the aircraft maker is likely to focus first on domestic customers.

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