China's state-owned Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing said on Friday it signed contracts with four other factories, marking the start of mass production of the country's first domestically developed regional jet, the ARJ21-700.
The four companies are the Avici Commercial Aircraft Co Ltd (ACAC) and aircraft component factories in Chengdu, Xi'an and Shenyang. ACAC will produce the main bodies, while the other three will make wings and other parts.
According to Luo Ronghuai, deputy general manager of ACAC, there have been 208 orders for ARJ21 jets from foreign and domestic customers, including an order for 25 from US-based GE Commercial Aviation Services.
The first five planes will be delivered next year, with 10 to be delivered in 2011 and 15 in 2012.
Luo said this year would be "the year of trial flights" as four planes would make trial flights. The first ARJ21-700 made a trial flight in Shanghai on Nov 28.