by Staff Writers
Shanghai (AFP) Nov 10, 2015
China's main commercial aircraft maker will deliver its long-delayed first homegrown regional jet by the end of 2015, state media reported Tuesday, years behind the originally announced deadline.
State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC) will deliver a 78-90 seat ARJ21 to domestic carrier Chengdu Airlines in late November or early December, the official Xinhua news agency said.
When the first ARJ prototype rolled off the production line in 2007 officials said deliveries were planned for 2009.
Chengdu Airlines declined to comment on the report, while a COMAC spokesman could not be reached.
COMAC, which took over the regional jet project from the former China Aviation Industry Corp., has just finished production on the C919, a narrow-body jet which can seat 168 passengers.
China is seeking to develop its own aviation sector to reduce dependence on and even challenge foreign giants, such as European consortium Airbus and Boeing of the United States, though analysts say it could take years.
The ARJ had its first test flight in 2008 and Xinhua reports that COMAC claims more than 300 orders for the ARJ, including three for Congo-Brazzaville in Africa.
But the plane lacks the crucial certification by the US Federal Aviation Administration that would enable it to fly in US skies.
Chengdu Airlines, a unit of Sichuan Airlines, has a fleet of 19 Airbus A320 aircraft flying more than 50 domestic routes, according to its website.
The airline will use the new plane on routes between its base in the southwestern city of Chengdu to major cities such as Beijing and commercial hub Shanghai, Xinhua said, but did not say when it would enter service.
The ARJ has a standard range of 2,225 kilometres (1,380 miles).
Aerospace News at SpaceMart.com
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