Jin Zhuanglong, chairman of Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd, holds up the certificate issued to its regional jetliner ARJ21 by the civil aviation authorities in Beijing on Dec 30.[Photo/Xinhua]
The ARJ21, China’s first domestic commercial regional aircraft, was certified by the Civil Aviation Administration of China on Dec 30, six years after the aircraft’s first test flight.
Gaining the certification means the aircraft meets the authority’s safety requirements and has permission to enter the civil aviation market, said Jin Zhuanglong, chairman of the aircraft’s manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd.
It also shows that Chinese authorities have the capacity to examine the passenger aircraft’s airworthiness, Jin said.
“After twists and turns, China’s aircraft manufacturing industry finally has the best opportunity to develop now,” said Vice-minister of Industry and Information Technology Su Bo.
Li Jiaxiang, head of the CAAC, was on board an ARJ21 flight from Shanghai to Beijing on Dec 30.
The regional jetliner, with 70 to 90 seats, went through 300 ground experimental items and 5,258 flying hours based on the regulations.
It is the first time the CAAC has given the CCAR-25 certification to a domestic aircraft.
The process for the ARJ 21’s airworthiness certification started in 2003, because neither the Chinese authorities nor the manufacturer had experienced the process before. The two sides have now gained experience on airworthiness certification, including technology and human resources, and based on that experience, the airworthiness certification for the C919, the homemade large passenger aircraft, will take less time.
Before producing the aircraft on a large scale, the manufacturer still needs to get production certification and airworthiness certification for every single aircraft.
The CAAC is still working on the single aircraft certification for the first delivered ARJ21, and Chengdu Airlines Co, the launch client of the regional aircraft, will get its first airplane in 2015.
The total number of ARJ21 orders is estimated at 300.
The China-made regional aircraft also has ambitions in the international market, and the company has already won three orders from the Republic of Congo.
“We have a strategy to develop in the African market,” said Luo Ronghuai, deputy general manager of COMAC.
Luo declined to give the new aircraft’s break-even point.
“We plan to spend three to five years building up a whole system for the new aircraft,” he added.
Production capacity for the ARJ21 will be 15 aircraft in 2015 and that number will increase by five to 10 planes every year.
COMAC’s designed annual production capacity for the ARJ21 will be 50 in the future, Luo said.
It will still take 10 to 15 years for the Chinese aircraft manufacturer to become internationally competitive, some experts said.
“We still lack the global resources allocation capacity,” said Zhang Yugui, dean of the school of economics and finance of Shanghai International Studies University.
Chinese passenger aircraft builders will need a long time to create an entire industrial system, covering main parts supply, quality testing and risk response systems, Zhang said.