Trunkliner techniques return for ARJ21

Singapore
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The making of the ARJ21 regional jet is a joint effort between several AVIC I factories in China that are each producing major subassemblies and sending them to Shanghai for final assembly.

And the manufacturing Chengdu Aircraft, Shanghai Aircraft, Shenyang Aircraft and Xian Aircraft are doing for the ARJ21 programme is the same type of work these Chinese state-owned firms were doing a decade earlier for McDonnell Douglas's short-lived Chinese TrunkLiner programme.

Chengdu Aircraft manufactured the Chinese MD-90's nose, Xian Aircraft built the wing and fuselage and Shenyang Aircraft built the empennage. These major subassemblies were then transported to Shanghai Aircraft for final assembly.

The Chinese TrunkLiner programme assembled only two MD-90s before the programme was closed in the late 1990s, but the manufacturing processes and systems used then are now being applied to the ARJ21 programme.


© Wei Meng

The manufacturing techniques used for the MD-90 TrunkLiner are being revived for the ARJ21

Chengdu Aircraft is manufacturing the nose, Xian Aircraft is building the wing and fuselage and Shenyang Aircraft is building the vertical stabiliser.

Shanghai Aircraft, meanwhile, is building the horizontal stabiliser and is responsible for final assembly.

Shanghai Aircraft is located at the city's Dachang airport. The factory buildings used for MD-90 final assembly were torn down and in its place has emerged a new factory building dedicated to ARJ21 final assembly.

While the building is new, some of equipment inside is not. Some of the cradles Shanghai Aircraft is using to assemble the ARJ21 are the same ones it used to assemble MD-90s, although because the MD-90 is a larger aircraft, Shanghai Aircraft has made some alterations to the equipment.

The production schedule calls for one ARJ21 to be completed this year and for annual production to steadily increase every 12 months and reach 15 a year in 2010 and 30 in 2011.