China’s ARJ21 faces further delays to first flight and deliveries

Singapore
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First flight of China's ARJ21-700 regional jet aircraft may be delayed by one more month and it has become clear that first deliveries will be pushed back into 2010.

China's state-run Xinhua news agency quotes Zhang Qingwei, chairman of the aircraft programme's parent company Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, as saying the maiden flight could be delayed to late November.

This programme has experienced several delays and the aircraft's developer, AVIC I Commercial Aircraft, had been aiming to have the first flight in late October.

If the aircraft does not fly this month it will prevent the ARJ21-700 from appearing at the Zhuhai air show in early November as had been planned. ACAC declines to comment on the delay, saying only that the date for first flight is under review.

Zhang also told Xinhua that once the aircraft has had its first flight it will take 18 months for it to receive Chinese certification. ACAC had hoped this could be cut to 12 months to allow delivery of its first aircraft to launch customer Shandong Airlines towards the end of next year. An 18-month certification process means the first delivery will be in late May 2010.

The certification effort for the ARJ21-700 will differ from earlier approval processes for Chinese aircraft, with the US Federal Aviation Administration shadowing the local authority to ensure the certification programme is in keeping with international standards.