BEIJING (AFP) -- China’s first domestically produced passenger jet made its maiden commercial flight on Sunday, a milestone event in the nation’s decades-long effort to compete with Western rivals in the air.
Beijing hopes the C919 commercial jetliner will challenge foreign models like the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320, though many of its parts are sourced from abroad.
Its first homegrown jetliner with mass commercial potential would also cut the country’s reliance on foreign technology as ties with the West deteriorate.
“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 from Shanghai “arrived smoothly” in Beijing just after 12:30 pm, around 40 minutes ahead of schedule, according to CCTV.
Footage showed passengers filing out of the plane and into the terminal, before a few dozen staff and officials posed for photographs in a brief ceremony on the tarmac.
“(The flight) was extremely smooth, comfortable and memorable. I think I’ll remember this fondly for some time to come,” a male passenger told CCTV.
The broadcaster had aired footage of the plane rising into the skies above Shanghai Hongqiao Airport on Sunday morning, saying it had 130 passengers on board.
State media footage showed passengers gathering at the sun-drenched Shanghai airfield to admire the sleek white jet before embarking.
Passengers received red boarding passes and a sumptuous “themed meal” to commemorate the flight, CCTV reported.
Other footage showed passengers waving national flags and singing a patriotic song while a cake was being cut during the flight.
China has invested heavily in