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China throws down the gauntlet: lifted off C919, first domestically produced plane

The C919, China's first domestically produced passenger aircraft, made its maiden flight today, taking off from Shanghai Airport and heading for the capital Beijing. 

The 164-seat aircraft was built to break the dominance of single-aisle jets from Airbus and Boeing, but still relies on Western components, including engines and avionics. 

Despite this, Comac, the manufacturer, already has over 1,200 orders, but some experts suggest that most of these orders are just letters of intent from domestic customers.

photo twitter @SpokespersonCHN
We are in Shanghai (China)
Departure at 10.45am from Shanghai, expected arrival in Beijing at 1.10pm. Return in the day, always following the same route, the busiest in all of China. After fifteen years of waiting, Comac's C919 takes flight, the Chinese answer to trying to undermine the monopoly of Airbus and Boeing. The 'Made in China' airliner took off on Sunday, for its first commercial flight, after flying hundreds of hours of test flights in recent months.
photo twitter @SpokespersonCHN
"Made in China" but not too much
However, the 164-seat aircraft still relies heavily on Western components, including engines and avionics, i.e. the electronic equipment installed on board the aircraft.
photo twitter @SpokespersonCHN
Planned production
The state-owned China Eastern Airlines has ordered five aircraft. Comac plans to produce 150 aircraft per year within the next five years and claims to have already secured more than 1,200 orders for the C919. But some experts claim that most of these orders are letters of intent from domestic customers.
photo twitter @SpokespersonCHN
There is a lot of enthusiasm
President Xi Jinping, who sat in the cockpit of a C919 model a few years ago, described the project as one of China's most innovative achievements.
photo twitter @SpokespersonCHN
"Made in China" considerations
The aircraft has a maximum flight capacity of 3,500 miles (5,630 kilometres) and can carry up to 158-168 passengers. "After generations of efforts, we have finally broken the Western aviation monopoly and got rid of the humiliation of 800 million shirts for a Boeing," wrote the Beijing Daily newspaper, referring to the early period of China's opening up to international trade when it mainly produced low-value-added goods.
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