AVIC I president Tang Xiao Ping says the first ARJ21-700 will go into commercial operation in 2008. The previous deadline was 2007. Tang says flight tests will be conducted in 2007, mainly in Xian, but also in Shanghai.

AVIC I, which has already completed the design of the ARJ21-700, has so far secured 41 orders for the 78- to 85-seat ARJ21-700 from four customers: Shandong Airlines (10), Shanghai Airlines (five), Shenzhen Financial Leasing (20) and Xiamen Airlines (six).

But it is keen to secure an order from one of China's three largest carriers - Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines. Tang says the company is also aiming to secure its first order for the ARJ21-900, the 105-seat stretched version, next year. In the longer term, the manufacturer hopes to secure overseas orders from carriers in countries that have strong bilateral ties with China. AVIC I is targeting airlines in South-East Asia and South America, adds Tang.

Source: Flight International