The launch of China’s ARJ21 regional jet will open up air travel to millions more domestic travellers, as well as filling a gap in North America, claims Chen Jin, vice president of AVIC 1 Commercial Aircraft Company.
Chen told Congress delegates the new regional jet – the first China-designed passenger jet – will move China away from copying a “USA model of air transportation which relies on large hub airports being fed by hundreds of feeder airports”, to a point-to-point service, bypassing major airports, freeing up airspace, saving time and reducing congestion.
Chen says: “The ARJ21 will be fast, cover long distances and have between 50 and 110 seats – filling what is missing from the current regional market. It will be convenient, as it will allow clients to travel across region and vast distances. Do we really need all these hubs? Not when we will already have the ARJ21. I believe this model will also prove popular in North America.”
The jet is not only designed to fill the need for high-temperature and altitude airports in Eastern China, but be able to make the growing number of regional airports financially viable. “Airlines create between 80 and 90 new routes each year and cancel the same amount. Too many routes in China are only open for a year or two while the state subsidises them. When this ends, the airline loses money.
The ARJ21 is designed to allow profitability from the beginning through its flexibility of the amount of passengers it can take, its long range, operational capabilities and speed,” he says.
Dr Pui Ho, director of the ARJ21 programme for USA-based Parker Aerospace, concurs with Chen’s assessment to the ARJ21’s capabilities. “This is a serious aircraft. It is the first fully fly-by-wire regional jet with no mechanical back-up. Traffic in China alone will double by 2016 and increase by more than five times by 2027. At the moment [in Asia] China leads the pack in terms of current or planned aircraft development and production.”
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