Eyes on the Skies

Aly Song / Reuters

The ARJ21 prototype takes shape at a Shanghai factory

China's Bangda airport in Tibet is challenging for planes as well as pilots. Tucked between mountain ranges on the Tibetan Plateau, Bangda's runway is the world's highest at 14,000 ft. (4,300 m) above sea level. Because the air is so thin there, the large Boeing and Airbus aircraft that comprise most of China's domestic fleet lack the power and lift to take off and land comfortably under certain conditions, especially in bad weather with a full load of passengers. So in 2002, the Beijing government came up with a surprising solution: China would build a small passenger jet so...

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