The Chinese AVIC I Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century (ARJ21-700) rolled out on Friday afternoon in Shanghai. This is a major milestone in Chinese aerospace. This is the first commercial jet offering in Chinese history. AVIC announced a 100 aircraft order by Kunpeng Airlines, a joint venture between China and Mesa Air Group, bringing the order total to 170. The 70 to 95 seat aircraft is powered by two General Electric CF34-10A turbofans at 15,332 lbs. of thrust each.
Bombardier and AVIC have decided to collaborate on the development of the larger ARJ21-900. This collaboration may actually lead to trouble for Bombardier if the -700 begins to eat into its market share on the CRJ.
One thing that deserves special attention is the design of this aircraft. Though it does bear a striking resemblance to a western counterpart, what strikes me when looking at these photographs, which were taken by Flight's Leithen Francis, is the very troubling location of the aft emergency exits. If you look closely as these photographs, you'll notice that the aft exit is directly in front of the engine inlets. In the event of an emergency evacuation, passengers will be exiting dangerously close to the engine, which could be potentially spinning and/or on fire at the time. I cannot imagine that safety regulators will be content with this design, nor should they.
Overall, the introduction of a new national player in commercial aircraft design and manufacture is a very bright point for the industry which will only serve to drive new partnerships, innovation, research and development. The more choices the market has, the better the products the flying public gets to enjoy.
Many more photos below the fold.