[photopress:Air_AV_regional_airliner_1.jpg,full,alignright]The ARJ21, the designation given to China’s new mid-range jet airliner, is due to take its first test flight in March next year. The mock-up was seen at the Asian Aerospace show in Hong Kong but that was only the cockpit and part of the fuselage.
For Chinese aviation this test flight will be a major step. For this will be the first Chinese-designed, Chinese-made jet to seek U.S. certification. If it gets that, and this seems fairly certain, then it is probable that China will take a part, size undefined, of the fast-growing global market for regional jetliners.
Chen Jin, vice president of the company’s commercial aircraft division said, ‘The ARJ21 will be fast, cover long distances and have between 50 and 110 seats, filling what is missing from the current regional market.
‘It will be convenient as it will allow clients to travel across regions and vast distances. Do we really need all these hubs? Not when we have the ARJ21. I believe this model will also prove popular in North America.’
A recent industry forecast by the Canadian aircraft maker Bombardier Aerospace estimated that over the next 20 years, an additional 11,200 aircraft would need to be built to meet demand in the 20- to 149-seat market segment.
Of that, the Chinese market would account for 15% of global deliveries, or 1,660 aircraft.
Part of China’s strategy of making air travel more accessible to the population is to improve direct connections between cities, expand regional and low-cost services and increase the availability of air services in the country’s western regions.
The ARJ21 would potentially serve this niche in China well. The first of the aircraft to roll off the assembly line in October 2009 will be a 90-seat version with a standard range of 2,225 kilometers, or 1,380 miles. An extended range version will allow it to fly 3,700 kilometers nonstop.
Jim Eckes, consultant at Indoswiss Aviation in Hong Kong, said, ‘The marketing costs are going to be tremendous. They’ll have to spend at least another $500 million just to promote the plane. They’re going to have to be in touch with end-users every day.’
On the other hand the aircraft starts with a potential home market of 1,660 which means it is very much in a position of potential immense development.
Source: International Herald Tribune