President Barack Obama during his visit to China pledged to push for closer technical collaboration and eventual US safety approval for China’s ARJ21 commuter jet..
That amounts to both a symbolic and practical step to counter Beijing’s growing frustration with US aviation policy and US restrictions on the purchase of certain technologies.
The high-profile US initiative is especially significant because China’s own safety regulators are still a year or more away from approving the 70 to 100-passenger aircraft being developed by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China.
This statement raises questions about both the overseas role and the independence of the US Federal Aviation Administration, which has taken more of an arm’s-length approach toward certifying the safety of China’s future airliners. Although it has cooperated in many areas with China when it comes to regulatory approval, the FAA has tried to maintain greater distance.
Wall Street Journal reported that so far, Western interest in buying the ARJ21 has been limited.
FAA certification is critical if Beijing hopes to attract foreign buyers, and some US officials predict it could take as long as two years. Currently undergoing flight tests, the plane has taken about twice as long to develop as its backers initially projected.