Comac is steadily ramping up flight testing for its ARJ21 regional jet programme as it closes in on a target to make first delivery by the close of 2011.

Aircraft 101, one of four aircraft in the ARJ21 test fleet, completed static testing of the ARJ21 on 12 April after three and a half years - progress hailed as a major milestone by Comac.

The completion of static testing is a vital step in ensuring that the ARJ21 receives certification from the Chinese authorities before its first delivery to launch operator Chengdu Airlines by the end of the year, says the airframer.

"Completion of the static testing is extremely significant. It is the first time that such testing is completed under the requirements of CCAR25 certification in China," says Comac's deputy general manager Luo Ronghuai.

Before completing static testing, Comac conducted flutter tests on aircraft 101. Other flight tests are continuing on the rest of the test fleet, says Comac.

Aircraft 104 has been undergoing icing tests and extensive flight trials in Urumqi since 27 March. Earlier in April, aircraft 102 underwent engine tests in Gansu province.

The ARJ21 static testing was completed under the watch of the US Federal Aviation Administration, which is conducting a shadow certification programme. This involves the FAA's assessing the Civil Aviation Administration of China's ability to assess technically the twinjet.

Comac has said it intends to apply for FAR 25 certification after the ARJ21 passes this shadow certification, so the aircraft can be marketed overseas.

Source: Flight International