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Passenger jets made in China set for delivery

Shanghai Daily, December 31, 2013 Adjust font size:

China rolled out the first domestically produced regional passenger jets for delivery next year in Shanghai Monday.

Two ARJ21-700s — the "Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century" — will be delivered to Chengdu Airlines after further test flights and begin business operations in early 2015.

The two 90-seat jets in plain green emerged from a hangar at the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China in Baoshan District.

"It is an aircraft similar or reaching the standards of major international aircraft makers," said Luo Ronghuai, vice general manager of the company and head of the ARJ project.

The aircraft has received more than 70 percent of its required certificates and is expected to receive final approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China next year, said Zheng Wen, deputy head of the project.

Four previous test aircraft have completed 2,200 safe take-offs and landings as well as more than 4,200 hours of flying.

"The jet is a pioneer for China's homemade passenger aircraft as well as a forerunner for the nation's first jumbo jet the C919," Zheng said.

The ARJ21, nicknamed the Flying Phoenix, is 33 meters long and has a wingspan of 27 meters. With a range of around 2,225 kilometers, it is mainly designed for the high temperature and high altitude airports in remote areas in west China.

China has spent over 10 years developing the jet. It announced plans to build its own turbofan passenger jet in 2000 and assembled the first ARJ21 in December 2007. Today, there are 252 orders for the aircraft, mostly from domestic airlines.

Its delivery was delayed for several years as the aircraft was tested in extreme conditions to ensure stability.

"Safety has always been the top priority of we plane makers, that's the main reason that we prolonged the final assembly and delivery of the jet," said Jin Zhuanglong, Comac chairman.

Also yesterday, a testing platform for China's first jumbo jet started operating in Shanghai.

The C919 is aimed at reducing China's reliance on, and to compete with, aircraft from world giants Boeing and Airbus.

The test platform, nicknamed the "iron bird," is a plane-like fuselage simulator, which will mainly test the flying controls, hydraulic pressure and undercarriage systems of the C919 jumbo jet.

"The platform, totally developed by China, can ensure the stability of future aircraft and avoid major mistakes during the design of the plane," said Wu Xingshi, former chief designer of the C919.

The platform will test various systems of the aircraft for 60,000 hours until delivery of the aircraft, said Lu Qing, deputy director of the test laboratory.

The C919 is due to make its first flight next year and enter service a year later.

It is the largest commercial airliner designed and built in China since the Shanghai Y-10, designed in the 1970s.

The 150-seat Chinese-made aircraft has already won 400 orders from carriers from both home and abroad.

The assembly center in Shanghai will be able to deliver the first C919 aircraft, with a range of 4,075 kilometers, in 2015.

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