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China's ARJ21 regional jet finally takes to the air

China's first indigenous regional jet, the ARJ21-700, finally completed its first flight this week, around six months later than originally scheduled.

The 90-seater took to the air on 28 November from Dachang airport in Shanghai, where manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) has its aircraft assembly plant.

"The first flight took 61min at an altitude of 8,200ft [2,500m], during which each system installed on the aircraft performed very well," says Comac.

The ARJ21-700 twinjet has a long list of Western suppliers including engine maker General Electric and avionics supplier Rockwell Collins. When the twinjet was rolled out in December last year its first flight was expected early in 2008. A delay of at least six months was confirmed in April.

At November's Airshow China in Zuhai, GE Commercial Aviation Services placed a firm order for five ARJ21-700s, with deliveries due to begin in 2013. Other customers include Shanghai Airlines (five orders), Shandong Airlines (10) and Shenzhen Financial Leasing (20).

Comac is working to ensure the aircraft receives Chinese certification and aims to deliver the first aircraft to launch customer Shandong Airlines by the end of next year.

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