After years of delays, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) has delivered its first ARJ21-700 regional jet to launch customer Chengdu Airlines.
The low-cost carrier received the aircraft, registration B-3321, at a special ceremony in Chengdu Shuangliu Airport on Sunday November 29 (local time), where it received a traditional water cannon salute after landing from Shanghai.
While the aircraft is eight years late following 12 years of development, including six years of flight testing, the delivery to Chengdu Airlines was regarded as a major breakthrough for the Chinese civil aviation sector given the ARJ21-700 is the Middle Kingdom’s first locally designed and manufactured civil turbofan regional jet.
“The ARJ21 regional aircraft is the first step in China’s civil aircraft development strategy. It’s also an achievement for the Made in China 2025 strategy,” China’s Minister of Industry and Information Technology Miao Wei told China Asia Daily.
Since the ARJ21-700’s first flight took place in November 2008, the five test aircraft fleet have conducted some 2,942 sorties and accumulated 5,258 hours of flying, according to the Chengdu Airlines website.
The ARJ21-700 was certified by the Civil Aviation Administration of China in December 2014, but is yet to receive certification from European or US regulators. It is designed to seat 90 passengers in a single-class configuration or 78 passengers in a two-class layout.
Other aircraft in its class include Brazil-based Embraer E-jets and Canadian manufacturer Bombardier’s regional jet family of aircaft.
The COMAC regional jet could also be compared to the Boeing 717, which is no longer in production.
COMAC has received about 340 orders for the ARJ21-700 from lessors and operators in China, Indonesia, the United States, Laos, Myanmar, the Republic of Congo.
Chengdu Airlines has firm orders for 30 ARJ21-700s and planned to use them on domestic routes from Chengdu to Beijing, Guiyang, Kunming, Nanjing, Shanghai, Wuhan and Xi’an.
China did attempt to manufacture a commercial aircraft in the 1970s and 1980s with the Y-10, but the project was dropped.