Shanghai, China, December 21, 2007
— China introduced its first homemade commercial jet this week, a major step for the fast-growing nation's aerospace industry.
Nicknamed "Xiang Feng" or "Flying Phoenix," the ARJ21-700 is the first plane designed specifically for China, with the features to fly and land at the extreme elevations and temperatures of the country's western regions, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
The new jet is scheduled to make its first flight next March and begin carrying passengers in the summer of 2009, once all safety standards have been met, Xinhua said.
Officials believe China alone will need 900 regional jets in the next two decades, in addition to aircraft planned for export, the China Daily
Vientiane, Laos-based Lao Airlines has already announced plans to buy two "Flying Phoenix" jets, the paper said.
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Photograph from China Daily Information Corp/REUTERS