China’s first fully homegrown commercial aircraft, the ARJ-21, rolled off the production line Friday (21 December 2007), marking a major step in the country’s aviation program.
In a nationally televised ceremony, the Xiangfeng, or “Flying Phoenix,” was towed into a hangar at the Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Factory amid flashing laser lights and rousing band music. “Today, China’s aviation industry has turned over a new leaf,” Lin Zuoming, general manager of China Aviation Industry Corp. I, or AVIC I, said in comments carried on the news channel of China Central Television.
The maiden flight of the jet is planned for March. It will carry up to 90 passengers and have a flight range of 2,000 nautical miles (2,300 miles or 3,680 kilometers). AVIC 1 expects the jet to get its airworthiness certificate in the first half of 2009 and plans to begin deliveries to customers in the third quarter of 2009, it said.