Source AP ©

China can't find good name for first homemade commercial jet

AVIC I, China’s aircraft maker, is asking the public to help name the country's first homegrown commercial aircraft.

Currently known as the ARJ-21, the plane is a regional passenger jet with up to 85 seats. It's maiden flight is scheduled for next March, with mass production to begin in 2009.

Submissions of names between two and four Chinese characters long will be accepted until Sept. 28, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

The name will be announced in December with the winner receiving a 50,000-yuan (US$6,623; EUR4,847) cash prize, it said.

The highly touted development project aims to make state-owned AVIC I a competitor to other makers of smaller passenger jets, such as Canada's Bombardier Inc. and Brazil's Embraer SA, while laying the groundwork for the development of a Chinese commercial jet twice the size of the ARJ-21.

AVIC I says the ARJ-21 is expected to grab up to 60 percent of the domestic market for mid-size regional airliners over the next 20 years.

China will need about 900 mid-sized regional jets over the next two decades, the company estimates, as economic growth drives an expansion of air travel and airlines look for planes best tailored to feeder routes.

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