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Last Updated: Friday, 21 December 2007, 14:48 GMT
Ceremony inaugurates Chinese jet
The ARJ21 being unveiled at Friday's ceremony
The ceremony was not open to the foreign media
China has held a ceremony to inaugurate its first home-grown commercial aircraft.

The ARJ-21, which will be able to seat up to 85 people, will embark upon its maiden flight in March and then go into mass production in 2009.

China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) is banking on the project to build its reputation in the industry.

With Chinese air travel booming, the authorities want to develop a competitive domestic manufacturer.


It is estimated that China will require 900 medium-sized jets over the next 20 years as it caters for the growing number of people for whom flying is an affordable means of travel.

China wants to grab 60% of the medium-sized jet market, currently dominated by firms such as Bombardier and Embraer.

The ARJ21 makes us part of the global aviation industry
Lin Zuoming, AVIC general manager

China's State Council said last year that it was committed to an "internationally competitive product" and would seek international assistance where necessary.

Friday's unveiling of the plane - dubbed the "Flying Phoenix" - was not open to any media apart from the official news agency Xinhua.

But Lin Zuoming, AVIC's general manager, was reported by China Central Television to have said that China's aviation industry "had turned over a new leaf".

"The ARJ21 makes us part of the global aviation industry but it still faces a new journey to become successful financially."

AVIC announced a new order for 100 planes from Kunpeng Airlines, a Sino-US joint venture, raising the total number of orders to date to 170.

China's aviation industry is expanding rapidly with suppliers winning more business from both Boeing and Airbus.

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