Business / Industries

First domestic regional jet delivered

By Wang Wen (China Daily) Updated: 2015-11-30 09:40

Seven routes planned to serve western areas; completion of 4 more aircraft expected in 2016

Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China delivered its first regional aircraft-designated the ARJ21-700-to Chengdu Airlines on Sunday, after the jet took 5,258-hour testing flights over the past seven years.

"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," said Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology. Miao attended the delivery ceremony and was aboard the flight from Shanghai to Chengdu on Sunday.

The aircraft will be put into commercial operation with passengers in three months, said Zhuang Haogang, chairman of the airline, which is based in Chengdu, Sichuan province. Seven domestic routes are planned, Zhuang said, including Chengdu to Shanghai, Beijing, Nanjing, Xi'an, Kunming, Wuhan and Guiyang.

Airports in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai are already suitable for the new aircraft and will help showcase the homegrown plane to customers, he said.

"But the western region is our main destination for future commercial operations of the ARJ21-700, which is a regional jet," Zhuang said.

The range of the aircraft is between 2,225 and 3,700 kilometers, which is appropriate for carrying passengers on routes between major cities to nearby smaller cities.

Zhuang said Chengdu Airlines also has ambitions to serve the international market, especially Southeast Asian destinations, although it will focus first on the domestic market.

The airline said it has prepared for its first five years of operations with the new planes and almost 400 staff, including flight crews, flight attendants, engineers and technicians who were in training until October.

"Five of our senior captains are already certified for the ARJ21-700, and another 20 experienced captains will be trained starting in January," Zhuang said.

"The carrier, which is currently operating 20 aircraft in the Airbus 320 family on over 50 domestic routes, plans to receive another four ARJ21-700s in the next year," Zhuang said. "Chengdu Airlines expects to fill its total order of 30 aircraft over five years."

It will be the only customer during the coming year, although COMAC has more than 300 orders from 20 clients, including some foreign carriers.

The Republic of the Congo, which ordered three ARJ21s last year, may be the first foreign carrier to start operating the aircraft.

With 90 seats, the aircraft is considered an advanced regional jet.

It is also the first product of COMAC, which also makes a large passenger aircraft, the C919.

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