Comac has delivered its first pair of ARJ21 converted freighters, as the airframer hails the “solid step forward” for China’s aerospace sector.
On 30 October, the airframer handed over one freighter (B-3329) to Hangzhou-based YTO Cargo Airlines, and another (B-3388) to Zhengzhou-based Air Central. The two freighters will “soon” be put into commercial service, says Comac, without disclosing a timeline.
YTO Cargo Airlines intends to deploy the type on short-haul international cargo routes, such as to Japan and Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, Air Central says it will operate the type on domestic routes, with a focus on the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area in the south, as well as the Yangtze River Delta in eastern China.
The freighter pair were formerly operated in passenger configuration by Chengdu Airlines. They were delivered to the airline in 2018, before being withdrawn from use in 2021.
The deliveries come more than three years since the freighter conversion programme – the first of its kind for a China-made aircraft – was launched. Chinese regulators certificated the programme in January this year.
Comac has tapped on MRO provider GAMECO for the aircraft conversion work. The Guangzhou-based company has extensive freighter conversion experience, including with Boeing’s 737-800BCF programme.
According to Comac, the ARJ21 converted freighters has a maximum payload of around 10t and a range of around 1,500nm (2,780km), allowing it to operate domestic and short-haul international cargo flights.
Comac adds: “The ARJ21 cargo aircraft provides new options for enriching the cargo route network, exploring low-volume markets, developing special cargo markets and high-altitude markets.”