China unveiled its first passenger jet today, the first step in its goal to become a major player in the global aviation industry, Bloomberg reports. The ARJ21, which seats up to 90, will make its maiden voyage in March, and the first planes will be ready for customers in 2009. Beijing hopes to meet soaring domestic demand and someday compete with the likes of Airbus and Boeing.
"It'll be a hard sell,'' said an analyst. "The Chinese are trying to break into the market and, to a degree, reinventing the wheel." To overcome its reputation for building shoddy planes, China has recently been investing heavily in its aerospace industry. A Chinese-made jumbo jet is on the drawing board for 2020.