After years of delays, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China’s (COMAC) ARJ21-700 regional jet has entered service with launch customer Chengdu Airlines.
The low-cost carrier’s first flight with the aircraft, registration B-3321, took place on Tuesday, with service from Chengdu to Shanghai. Local media reported the maiden flight took off from Chengdu Shuangliu Airport just before 0930 local time and landed at Shanghai Hongqiao Airport about two hours later, carrying about 70 passengers.
“Today is a big day for us and for the entire Chinese aviation industry as well,” Chengdu Airlines vice president Shuai Zhiyong said in a statement.
“We’re proud to be the launch operator of this new aircraft and feel this flight is a shining moment in aviation history for all of China as we fly the first regional jet manufactured in our own country into the sky.
“We believe this aircraft will bring good economics to our operation and great comfort to our passengers.”
Although about eight years late following 12 years of development, including six years of flight testing, the ARJ21-700 entry into service was regarded as a major breakthrough for the Chinese civil aviation sector given the aircraft was the Middle Kingdom’s first locally designed and manufactured civil turbofan regional jet.
The ARJ21-700 was powered by two GE CF34-10A engines. The aircraft received type certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in late 2014.
GE global vice president and president of GE Aviation Greater China region Weiming Xiang said: “We are proud to power this aircraft, and we are committed to provide our fullest support for the success of its operation.”
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. The airline has configured the aircraft with 90 seats.
Chengdu Airlines received its first ARJ21-700 in November 2015.
ARJ21-700 – Asian Regional Jet for the 21st Century – components such as the nose, fuselage, and tail were the same as those used on the Douglas DC-9 and McDonnell Douglas MD-80.
COMAC is also developing a larger jet, the C919, which is designed to compete with single-aisle variants from Boeing and Airbus. The C919 was tipped to enter service in 2019.