[photopress:air_arj21_new.jpg,full,alignright]A most amazing article by Bradley Perrett in Aviation Week shines a new and very well-informed new light on the ARJ21, China’s new aircraft. Well worth clicking on the link Source below to read the full text. Bradley Perrett gets a gold star, a go-home-early mark and a Chocolate Freddo. What follows is very much a precis.
The ARJ21 regional jet is shaping up as China’s equivalent of the Airbus A300 – a project that in its time seemed merely interesting but later was recognized as the origin of a major product range.
The ARJ21-700, which is very much a niche aircraft designed for hot and high airports but this is not the key point about this project.
Above all, the ARJ21 program is important as the occasion in which Chinese industry is learning to develop a commercial aircraft to full Western standards and with its own intellectual property rights, to coordinate with many subcontractors, to gain certification from the U.S. FAA, to establish an international marketing operation, and – crucially – to prove that it will support aircraft in service.
‘Cross the river by feeling the stones,’ said former leader Deng Xiaoping.
The ARJ21 project is a line of big stones that will lead Chinese industry far across the river.
Rollout is scheduled for late this year, with 14 months of flight testing to begin in March. Chinese type certification should follow in July 2009 and first delivery three months later.
Three production aircraft are to be completed in 2009, 14 in 2010 and 30 in 2011. So the backlog of 71 orders, all from Chinese customers, implies that the plant will be busy until late 2011.
Once the -700 is in service, development will begin on the ARJ21-900, which will have more improvements than just a longer fuselage. The Chinese engineers want to reach out to feel a few more stones.
Boeing’s vice president for China, John Bruns, said, ‘Clearly, with the ARJ program the Chinese are taking a large step forward. It would be naive of us to think that our two companies, Airbus and Boeing, are going to dominate this industry forever.’
The likelihood of an eventual 150-seat ARJ21 derivative has risen over the past year as China has firmed up plans for its second commercial aircraft. Rather than follow up its regional jet with an aircraft in the next standard size category – a standard six-abreast narrow-body – the government has approved what state media are calling a jumbo with more than 150 seats and a takeoff weight of more than 100 metric tons.
That should be a small wide-body-the next line of stones across the river.
The article is superbly well written with great authority and has left one journalist green with envy.
Source: Aviation Week