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First Chinese made regional jet makes debut commercial flight

28 June 2016

Making its maiden flight, China's first locally built regional jet, carried 70 passengers from the western city of Chengdu to Shanghai on the east coast.

The plane-maker Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd hailed as a milestone.

Chengdu Airlines flight EU6679 took two hours and 12 minutes and was "an important milestone in the development of civil aviation in China", COMAC said in a statement.

"Chinese skies for the first time have welcomed a passenger jet developed by China," it said.

The ARJ-21 will take on similar small passenger jets produced by Brazil's Embraer SA and Canada's Bombardier Inc.

COMAC would continue to "optimize the design of the jet, push forward at a serialized and industrialized pace, and develop domestic and overseas markets," COMAC chairman Jin Zhuanglong told reporters at Shanghai's Hongqiao Airport after the plane landed.

"We will make efforts to build the ARJ-21 as a new calling card for China's high-end equipment manufacturing industry," he said.

China which is looking to emerge as a global supplier of aircraft and is also developing the C919 narrow-body jet, which it hopes would compete with Boeing Co's 737 and Airbus Group SE's A320. It also plans to build a larger wide-body plane in a joint venture with Russia.

According to commentators, the ARJ21-700 jet comes as part of an initiative launched by the ruling Communist Party to transform China from the world's low-cost factory into a creator of profitable technology in aviation, clean energy and other fields.

China, which is among the biggest aviation markets, relies heavily on foreign-made aircraft, which Beijing seeks to change.

"The first flight of the ARJ21 marks the beginning of commercial, or passenger, operations for the ARJ21 and signifies the first time a domestically made regional jet has been used by a Chinese airline," said Zhuanglong, Associated Press reported.

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