Vice-Premier Ma Kai makes an inspection tour to a plane model in the Beijing Capital International Airport on Dec 30.
BEIJING — China’s first domestically produced regional jet was officially certified on Dec 30, marking a crucial step forward for the jet’s entry into the market.
The ARJ21-700 won the certification after a series of examinations by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) using the country’s airworthiness standards.
The ARJ21, short for Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century, is a type of regional airliner designed and manufactured by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC).
“The certification of the ARJ21 demonstrates that China’s independently developed and manufactured planes have already boasted the conditions for safe flying,” said Vice-Premier Ma Kai during an inspection tour to a plane model in the Beijing Capital International Airport on Dec 30.
Ma said that the certification also marked a big stride forward for China’s plane manufacturing sector, hailing the event as a significant milestone in the nation’s civil aviation plane development.
Despite the progress, Ma said safety must always be prioritized, and more efforts should be made to constantly improve the quality of the jet planes and promote them to the market.
As a major national high-tech project, the design, manufacturing, assembly, and airworthiness of the ARJ21 plane have all been based on internationally accepted standards, criteria, and methods, according to a statement from the General Office of the State Council.
The first ARJ21-700 jet was designed and manufactured between 2003 and 2007 and made its first test flight in November 2008. Since then, the jet has completed more than 5,000 hours of test flights.
There are 78 seats in a dual-class configuration and 90 seats in a full economy class configuration. Its economic life is designed for 60,000 flying hours or 20 calendar years.
After the CAAC started the jet’s certification process in 2012, a total of 300 ground examinations and more than 1,141 hours of test flights were carried out, the CAAC said.
Certification is not the end of the process, said Luo Ronghuai, vice-president of COMAC and also head of the ARJ21 project.
There must be a period for improving the model’s design, systems and operations before its entry into the market, Luo said.
The jet will still need to gain brand recognition and market share in order to be a success, and eventually it must be able to bring profits to the airlines that use it, he said.
Li Jiaxiang, head of the CAAC, rode the jet from Shanghai to Beijing on Dec 30, believing that “the jet can provide no less comfort than any plane I’ve ever taken.”
After the certification, trial operations will be made. It will take at least three years to build systems for commercial operation and management.
The jet currently has 278 orders, COMAC data showed.