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Congo order boosts jetliner's international ambitions

Updated: 2014-10-05 14:48
By Abduel Elinaza (China Daily Africa)

The Republic of Congo will become the first African nation to take delivery of the new Chinese-built Advance Regional Jet 21-700, or ARJ21.

Its government has placed an order for three of the 90-seater regional jetliners, manufactured by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, known as COMAC, bringing total orders for the aircraft to 256, says Wayne Liu, director of the company's international cooperation and supplier management. Most of the orders are domestic.

Liu says the new order came after a tour of the company's factory in Shanghai by the Congolese President Denis Sassou Nguesso.

The Republic of Congo is the second country after Myanmar to place an order for the planes, turbofan jets designed and manufactured in China using its own intellectual property rights, but Liu says others are expected.

The ARJ21 is due to complete test flights early next year, paving the way for the first deliveries by the middle of the year.

COMAC hopes to build 20 of the aircraft a year. The ARJ21's maximum range is 2,225 km and it is primarily being targeted at servicing routes between China's central cities. Liu acknowledges it faces stiff competition internationally, particularly from well-established rivals in Brazil and Canada.

Earning a United States Federal Aviation Administration type certification is a precondition for the ARJ21 to enter the world market, on top of its conforming to Civil Aviation Administration of China regulations.

The aircraft is expected to get airworthiness certification from the Chinese authorities by the end of the year, according to company officials.

It has already gone through all the ground requirements, and 70 percent of air requirements needed for the certification

Air transport demand in the Republic of Congo is forecast to go up every year, and the ARJ21's adaptability and range-covering capability make it ideally suited for the African terrain, officials say.

For China Daily

 

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