Choose Your Language Of Preference Below

French Version German Version Russian Version Spanish Version

Portuguese Version Chinese Version Arabic Version 

HONG KONG –

China’s first home-built airliner was set to meet the world Friday.

The state-controlled China Aviation Industry Corp. I, or AVIC I, the nation’s biggest plane manufacturer, was scheduled to roll out its first completed regional jet, the ARJ21-700, at a 600 million yuan ($81 million) assembly facility in Shanghai.

China hopes that the ARJ21, or Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century, will be competitive with regional jets made by Canada’s Bombardier and Brazil’s Embraer (nyse: ERJnews people ).

China is in the midst of a major expansion of its air network, and it would like to make sure that a good chunk of the spending stays in the country.

The government is currently carrying out a five-year plan to buy 500 jets and build 48 airports. Boeing projects that Chinese carriers will spend $340 billion over the next two decades to buy 3,400 planes. (See: ” Boeing Raises Forecast For Chinese Plane Demand“)

The ARJ21-700 is designed to carry 78 to 90 passengers on flights of 1,200 to 2,000 sea miles, making it capable of serving on more than 98% of domestic routes.

After an online vote by 400,000 Chinese netizens, the model has been named xiangfeng, which means flying phoenix, AVIC I said Friday.

The maiden flight of the short-haul plane is scheduled for March. AVIC I has received 73 orders for the plane from domestic carriers and aircraft leasing companies, including Shandong Airlines Co., Shanghai Airlines Co. and the government of Laos. The state-run aircraft manufacturer plans to begin delivering planes to customers in September 2009.

At the Paris Air Show earlier this year, Bombardier Aerospace, the world’s No. 3 aircraft maker, entered into an agreement to help the Chinese company develop an extended 90- to 149-seat version of the ARJ21-700 that will meet certification standards for use in the West. The Canadian aviation behemoth will help its Chinese partner to market the jet overseas, receiving royalties on sales. (See ” Bombardier To Help China Reach Skies“)

China’s state-controlled aviation industry also is working to produce jumbo jets by 2020, aiming to challenge Boeing (nyse: BAnews people ) and EADS (other-otc: EADSYnews people ) unit Airbus.

Source: FORBES.COM AIRLINES NEWSLETTER DECEMBER 25, 2007