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Second ARJ reaches the sky

THE second Chinese-made ARJ21-700 jet made a successful maiden flight yesterday in Shanghai, a step closer for the project to gain airworthiness certificates.

The 90-seat jet took off at 11:21am from the Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Factory in Zhabei District and reached a height of 3,000 meters during the 62-minute trip.

"The flight of the second jet mainly tested the power unit, auxiliary power units, structural load and air management systems," said Chen Yong, chief designer. "There will continue to be test flights at high altitude and in low temperatures."

The third ARJ21-700 jet has nearly completed assembly. Major parts of the fourth jet have been delivered and assembly will be start soon, the maker, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, said.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China is in discussions with United States authorities on gaining an airworthiness certificate to allow the jet to fly in the US.

The Advanced Regional Jet effort, a key high-tech project in China's 2001-2005 five-year plan, was approved by the State Council in 2002 at a cost of 6 billion yuan (US$878 million). It has a maximum range of 3,700 kilometers and can fly at altitudes up to 11,900 meters.

The 33-meter aircraft is due to be delivered to clients next year.

The company has received at least 208 orders from domestic and overseas buyers, including GE Commercial Aviation Service which bought 25 ARJs in a deal worth 5 billion yuan.

The demand for regional jets should increase because of their fuel efficiency on shorter routes, according to a report on the Chinese commercial airplane market released by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China.

From 2008 to 2027, Chinese airlines will need to add 2,822 jumbo jets and 993 regional jets to their fleets, the report said.


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