On 30th December, six years after its first flight, and some 5,000 hours of flight tests later, the ARJ21, China's first regional jet, has obtained certification from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
This is a first step for the manufacturers Comac, who can now market their twin-engined ‘plane, provided it does not exit Chinese territory, because to be operated internationally, the ARJ21 will have to be certified by the US and European civil aviation authorities (FAA & EASA). A major step that they will probably not achieve before 2016.
To date, 278 firm orders have been received by the Chinese manufacturers, who, in the coming weeks, intend to deliver their first production units to the Chinese company Chengdu Airlines, which specializes in domestic flights from Chengdu.
Assembled in Shanghai, the ARJ21 is aimed at capturing a good share of the expanding Chinese domestic market. Another objective is also to outshine its competitors : the Bombardier CS100, Embraer 190 and Sukhoi SSJ100.
The main asset of the Chinese regional jet is its list price of $ 30 million, well below those of its competitors, however, in comparison with them, it is limited by its 10 to 20 passenger lower seating capacity, and shorter operating ER (extended range) of 3,700 km (2,300 miles), but Comac have not had their last word.
An elongated version of the ARJ21 is on the programme, and their C919 medium-haul, at present being assembled, should enter service in 2016. The Chinese civil aviation industry is taking on the rest of the world.