The ARJ21-700, China's first home grown regional jet airliner designed and manufactured by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, made its maiden flight on Tuesday from Chengdu, Sichuan province to Shanghai, in a flight operated by Chengdu Airlines.
ARJ21, short for Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century, is also the country's first domestically produced commercial aircraft, widely regarded as the pathfinder for the C919, China's first locally made large passenger aircraft which rolled off the assembly line in November.
"Our final goal is to achieve business and market success," said Tian Jianbo, deputy chief designer of ARJ21.
"The operation has entered a completely new stage. We won a battle, but there is still a long way to go," said Tian.
Flight safety, operational convenience and brand building are the main initial focuses of the ARJ21 airliner, Chengdu Airlines said in a statement on Tuesday.
According to the statement, the ARJ21s in the early stage will be based in Chengdu and fly to important regional cities, depending on their market potential and passenger volumes.
Chendu Airlines is the first to operate the new aircraft. It will serve the Chengdu-Shanghai route, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.
"ARJ21 is safe, but not perfect. There are some improvements that can be made, such as fuel efficiency and comfort," said Yang Shuanchang, a senior official at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, who added that attention to detail by the developers meant they spent significantly more time than industry norms in test flights.
"We haven't yet mastered this kind of technology, so we spent three times longer than other (airplane makers)", he said, explaining normal test flights for an aircraft model would be about 2,000 hours, while the ARJ21 tested more than 5,200 hours.
The makers say the flight range of ARJ21 is between 2,225 and 3,700 kilometers, with a top altitude of 11,900 meters. The 78-90 seater airliner has an estimated operational lifespan of 60,000 flying hours.
COMAC said it will offer a satellite communication system for the ARJ21, and telephone and high speed wireless internet access for passengers and flight crew.