By Elaine Kurtenbach
The Associated Press
SHANGHAI, China (AP) — China’s first fully homegrown commercial aircraft, the ARJ-21, successfully made its maiden flight on Friday, Nov. 28, a key step in the country’s ambitious aviation program.
Unusually clear skies in the region made Friday a good opportunity to go ahead, and the test flight was successful, said an official with the Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC), confirming reports in the state-run media. Like many media-shy Chinese officials, he gave only his surname, Peng.
The flight was made from a local airport in northern Shanghai’s Baoshan District and went “extremely well,” the China News Service and other state-run media reported.
For safety reasons, the aircraft was allowed to attain a maximum height of only 900 meters (2,953 feet).
Airlines have ordered a total of 206 ARJ jets, according to the government.
China will need about 900 mid-sized regional jets over the next two decades, Commercial Aircraft Corp. estimates, as economic growth drives an expansion of air travel and airlines look for planes best tailored to feeder routes.
The manufacturer says the ARJ-21 is expected to grab up to 60 percent of the domestic market for mid-sized passenger jets in the next two decades. ♦
Associated Press researcher Ji Chen contributed to this report.