China's first home-grown regional jet, ARJ21-700, rolled off the production line in Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Factory on Friday afternoon, said a spokesman of the producer.
The ARJ21 jet's name, "Xiang Feng," meaning "Flying Phoenix" was also unveiled on the roll-out ceremony. The name was chosen in a global competition via the Internet, said a spokesman of the China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I), the jet's designer and producer.
The first ARJ21-700 jet, powered by a turbofan engine, can carry 90 passengers with a maximum range of 2,000 nautical miles.
It is planned to make its maiden flight in March and be delivered to the first customers in the third quarter of 2009 after it gets airworthiness certification in the first half of the same year.
Vice chief designer Chen Yong said the jet will go through more than 170 tests before it gets the certification.
"The ARJ-21 also focuses on comfort. The passenger cabin is 123 inches wide, 15 to 25 inches wider than Bombardier's CRJ700 and CRJ900, and Brazil's ERJ170 and ERJ190. The seat is 0.9 inch wider than that of the Boeing 737," said Chen. "It's one of the amplest cabins of any regional plane in the world."
"We aim to provide regional air passengers with the service comparable to trunk line airplanes," he added.
AVIC I has received orders for 171 "Xiang Feng" aircraft, of which two are from a Laotian airline company, said the spokesman at the ceremony.
The latest order for 100 ARJ21 jets were inked on Friday by Shenzhen Airlines based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. It is the one single largest order that AVIC I have received.
The manufacturer also received orders for 71 jets from other domestic airline companies, including Shandong Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, Shenzhen Financial Leasing Co., Ltd. and Shanghai Electric Leasing Co.,Ltd.
"Some foreign companies show increasing interest in the ARJ21 jets these days. We expect to receive more overseas orders in the first half of next year," said a source with the AVIC I Commercial Aircraft Co.,Ltd. on the ceremony.
The ARJ21, a regional passenger jet with 70 to 110 seats, is the world's first plane designed to take into account to China's natural environment. The plane will be capable of landing and taking off at airports in western China's plateau in high temperatures.
The ARJ21 program was formally approved by Chinese authorities in 2002, with a first-stage investment of 5 billion yuan (667 million U.S. dollars) from the government.
ARJ21, short for "Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century," is featured for its safety and low price. It is the first regional jet that China has fully developed on its own, in accordance with the standards set by General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (GACAC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Joint Aviation Authorities(JAA).