China's Comac C919 airplane makes its first flight
Manufactured by the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Company of China, the plane took off from, and later returned to, Shanghai Pudong International Airport.
The company was established as a competitor to Boeing and Airbus, and with about 150 seats, the C919 is similar in size to the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.
The State Council, China's executive Cabinet, announced plans in 2007 to develop the aircraft, with a target date for a first flight of 2014, followed by delivery of aircraft in 2016.
Although numerous delays occurred, state media reported that 21 customers have placed orders for more than 500 planes, and sales are expected to eventually exceed 2,000. Air China, China Eastern, China Southern and Germany's RuPen are among airlines that have ordered C919s, the state-owned Global Times said.
Chinese President Xi Jinping called the establishment of China as a power in the aviation industry a "strategic move," CNBC said Friday, citing state media.
It added that Boeing estimated China will require up to $1 trillion in aircraft, or over 6,800 new planes, in the next 20 years ■