C919 goes down in history. This airliner of Chinese origin is the very first to fly in the air. The machine rose this Sunday, May 28, for its start in the world of commercial flight. This maiden takeoff represents a real turning point in the history of Chinese air transport. Asians have long dreamed of competing with Westerners in this sector.

China Eastern Airlines flight MU9191 took off from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport (east) around 10:30 a.m. local time (02:30 GMT), according to footage from state broadcaster CCTV. On board the plane, bound for Beijing Capital International Airport, are 130 passengers.

The aircraft is scheduled to land around 1:10 p.m. local time (5:10 a.m. GMT), according to the airline’s website. Footage released by state media showed dozens of passengers gathered at Shanghai airport to admire the sleek white aircraft. The latter then boarded the aircraft which, after taxiing on the runway, took off.

All passengers received red boarding passes and will be able to enjoy a lavish themed meal on board to celebrate the event, CCTV said. China, which is seeking to become self-sufficient in the technology sector, has invested heavily in the production of this first Chinese-designed airliner.

Beijing hopes the C919 can compete with popular foreign aircraft like the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320. other countries. The C919 will be mobilized from Monday for regular routes operated by China Eastern Airlines to connect Shanghai to Chengdu (south), reported CCTV.

“In the future, most passengers will be able to choose to travel on large domestically designed aircraft,” CCTV described. The first model of the narrow-body aircraft capable of carrying 164 passengers was officially delivered to the Chinese airline in December 2022. Zhang Yujin, deputy general manager of Comac, told the government-backed media outlet The Paper in January that the company had registered more than 1,200 orders for its device.

The state automaker planned to increase its annual production capacity to 150 models within five years, Zhang Yujin said at the time. Asia, and China in particular, are priority objectives for the European Airbus and the American Boeing, which seek to take advantage of the growing demand for flights from a sizeable middle class. In April, Airbus announced that it would double its production capacity in China and signed an agreement to build a second assembly line in Tianjin (northeast) for the A320. The first assembly site in Tianjin opened in 2008 and produces four A320s per month. A rate that Airbus hopes to increase to six per month by the end of 2023.