Nov 10, 5:29 AM EST

China's new passenger jet finishes first long-haul flight

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AP Photo/Andy Wong

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BEIJING (AP) -- China's homegrown passenger jet touched down safely after its first long-haul test flight on Friday, bringing the nation one step closer to competing directly with aircraft giants in Europe and America.

China hopes to develop its C919 jet to compete with popular single-aisle jets such as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.

State media said the plane lifted off the tarmac in Shanghai and flew west about 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) to the city of Yanliang.

The test flight comes on the heels of a state visit by U.S. President Donald Trump during which China signed on to buy 300 Boeing jetliners for $37 billion and $2.5 billion worth of General Electric jet engines, alongside energy and telecom deals worth a total of $253.4 billion.

The C919 was originally due to begin flying in 2014 and be delivered to buyers in 2016, but has been beset by delays blamed on manufacturing problems. It's now unlikely to carry commercial passengers until at least 2019.

The jet's development is a key step on the path laid out by Chinese leaders to transform the country from the world's low-cost factory into a creator of profitable technology.

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