The first large made-in-China passenger plane successfully completed its maiden test flight yesterday, marking a key milestone on the country's ambitious journey to compete with the world's leading aircraft makers.
The narrow-body C919 jet -- white with green and blue stripes -- disappeared into the clouds after taking off from Pudong international airport in the commercial hub Shanghai as a crowd of thousands cheered. It successfully landed some eighty minutes later.
Built by state-owned aerospace manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), the plane represents nearly a decade of effort in a government-mandated drive to reduce dependence on European consortium Airbus and US aerospace giant Boeing.
The flight is the latest sign of China's growing ambition and technical skill, coming one week after the country launched its first domestically made aircraft carrier and docked a cargo spacecraft with an orbiting space lab.
Before takeoff, CCTV state television said the plane would be tested at an altitude of 3,000 metres (9,800 feet), some 7,000 metres lower than a regular trip, and at a speed of around 300 kilometres (186 miles) per hour.
Top officials, COMAC staff and company partners attended the inaugural flight, which was shown live on state television.
China has dreamt of building its own civil aircraft since the 1970s, when it began work on the narrow-body Y-10, which was eventually deemed unviable and never entered service.
President Xi Jinping himself has endorsed the new project, visiting COMAC even before he took office in 2013. The first flight was supposed to take place last year, but it was delayed until now.
His call to arms is emblazoned on the wall of the jet's production facility: "Accelerate the construction of the world's top aviation company and continue to make new contributions to develop a strong aviation industry."