China’s first indigenous passenger jet made its maiden flight on Friday, Reuters reported. This marks the Asian giant’s entry into the highly-competitive global aviation sector which is dominated by Boeing and Airbus.

The 158-seater C919 aircraft took off from Shanghai Pudong International Airport in eastern China, making the country the fourth after the United States, Europe and Russia to manufacture aircraft. The 80-minute flight was greeted with applause by more than 1,000 spectators on the tarmac, including Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai and Shanghai Party chief Han Zheng.

The twin-engine plane had five crew members and no passengers. “The maiden flight was exciting,” said Wu Guanghui, C919’s chief designer, adding that it was a major breakthrough in China’s civil aviation history, as well as the start of a new era of advanced manufacturing in the country.
The “C” in the aircraft’s name stands for both China and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, while 9 symbolises “forever” in Chinese culture and 19 represents the maximum 190 seats capacity.

The narrow- body jet is comparable with the updated Airbus 320 and Boeing’s new generation 737, signalling the country’s entry into the global aviation market, Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

The aircraft is part of the “Made in China 2025,” a project to make China a global manufacturing power.