Made in China plane makes first commercial flight

Beijing—China’s homegrown regional jet made its first commercial flight Tuesday, operator Chengdu Airlines said, after years of delays raised questions about the country’s ambitious plans for domestically-produced planes. Chengdu Airlines flew the ARJ21 from its eponymous home base, the capital of the southwestern province of Sichuan, to the commercial hub Shanghai carrying 70 passengers. More than half were paying customers who were aware they were flying in a new plane, an airline spokesman told AFP.
The ARJ21—which stands for Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century—will ferry flyers on the Chengdu-Shanghai route three times a week, he added. The inaugural flight was the culmination of a 14-year programme to make China a commercial aircraft manufacturer capable of competing with dominant foreign players Boeing and Airbus. But the aircraft still lacks the crucial US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification that would allow it to fly in US skies, and most manufacturers do not yet view the COMAC plane as a competitive threat.—AFP

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