Chengdu Airlines hopes to commence service with its first Comac ARJ21-700 regional jet by the end of 2014.
The Chinese carrier made the comment about receiving its first example at an airline recruitment event last week. This is the first time in recent years that the launch customer of the much delayed type has publicly commented on when it expects to take delivery of the jet.
Flightglobal's Ascend Online Fleets database shows that Chengdu Airlines has 30 ARJ21s on order, scheduled for delivery from 2014 through to 2018.
Comac is conducting natural icing tests on Aircraft 104, one of its four regional jets undergoing ground and flight tests. The tests will be conducted at three locations – Urumqi, Atlay and Karamay – to ensure that the icing conditions are conducive for realistic tests.
Chengdu Airline's comments corroborate what Comac told Flightglobal Pro in September: that it plans to certificate the ARJ21 next year and deliver the aircraft to the launch customer by the end of 2014.
It added that the jet’s certification process has been moving forward as planned and that a series of major tests was completed this year.
Progress on the ARJ21, a project which started 11 years ago, has been slow as engineers encountered problems in development and because of China's nascent certification processes. Delivery of the aircraft, initially set for 2007, has also been pushed back several times, partially because the inexperienced airframer is working with the Civil Aviation Administration of China, which is certifying a commercial jet for the first time.
Comac has so far garnered 252 commitments for the ARJ21, mostly from Chinese airlines and leasing companies.