China Aviation Industries I (AVIC I) has pushed back delivery of the first ARJ21 regional jet from 2008 to 2009 as the manufacturer looks to change some design features. Industry sources say AVIC I is considering using more composites to reduce aircraft weight and has begun renegotiating contracts with some suppliers to reflect new specifications. AVIC I disclosed last week delivery of the first ARJ21 to launch customer Shandong Airlines will be in 2009 instead of August 2008 – already a slip from the originally announced target of early 2007.

Industry sources say suppliers were recently notified of the slip and some are being asked to renegotiate contracts because the scope of the equipment they are to supply has changed.

AVIC I claims the first flight will still be in 2007. Several AVIC I subsidiaries are manufacturing components for the ARJ21, but sources say they are not as concerned by the delay because they are now focusing more on larger supplier programmes for Airbus and Boeing.

The delay in first delivery means Shanghai-based AVIC I Commercial Aircraft Company (ACAC), which is leading the project, will not meet its goal of placing the 78- to 85-seat ARJ21 into service before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. ACAC has commitments for 35 ARJ21s from Shandong Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and Shenzhen Aircraft Leasing.

Source: Flight International