The stakes in the regional aircraft market have edged higher, with Chinese aircraft manufacturer Comac saying its ARJ21 will enter service next year.
Chengdu Airlines, launch customer for the 78 to 90-seat regional twinjet, is said to be targeting entry into service in late 2014 following certification by the CAAC mid-year.
According to FlightGlobal, the stuttered certification process is back on track following the completion of flight test milestones, including the emergency release of the aircraft’s landing gear, a factor that has seen protracted delays in the flight test program.
It had been anticipated the aircraft, which has garnered 252 orders mostly from Chinese carriers, would enter service some six years ago. The ARJ21 now faces earnest competition from Bombardier’s CSeries 100, which recently conducted its first flight.
FlightGlobal reports the four ARJ21 flight test aircraft have conducted more than 2,000 flights that have accrued 4,000 hours, covering around 70 per cent of the flight tests required by the CAAC and the FAA under a shadow certification plan.
Comac has designed the ARJ21 to operate on feeder services to major hubs and to supplement capacity, with a maximum range of 3,700km. The aircraft, powered by two CF34-10A engines, can be configured in a 78-seat dual-class layout or with 90 seats in a full-economy configuration.
In other Comac-related news, a delegation from RMIT University visited the Chinese manufacturer recently to further existing relationship in which RMIT provides study and training opportunities for Chinese aircraft engineers.