Chengdu Airlines celebrated the 7th anniversary of its first ARJ21 delivery earlier this week, on November 29th. As the initial customer of the COMAC ARJ21 program, Chengdu Airlines received its first ARJ21 on November 29th, 2015.
Restructured from the previous United Eagle Airlines in 2010, Chengdu Airlines owned an all-Airbus fleet of 20 aircraft (consisting of four Airbus A319s and 16 Airbus A320s) before receiving the first ARJ21 aircraft in 2015. Now they have grown into a mid-sized airline with a fleet of 70 aircraft. By the end of last month, Chengdu Airlines ranked 15th among all 43 Chinese domestic airlines in terms of fleet size.
Close to its 100th delivery
According to Xinhua’s news report, it was publicly reported in June for the first time that COMAC has already manufactured 100 ARJ21 aircraft. The report also states that the production rate of ARJ21 is now reaching 50 aircraft annually.
However, COMAC delivered its 85th and 86th ARJ21 to OTT Airlines at the end of November. So at least 14 ARJ21 have already rolled off the final assembly line (FAL), waiting to be delivered.
COMAC once planned to deliver 100 ARJ21 in July 2021, the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Communist Party of China. Almost one and a half years later, the goal is finally within sight.
So far, COMAC has 670 ARJ21 passenger aircraft orders and 70 ARJ21 cargo configuration orders from 20 different customers, though not all the orders are determined orders.
Expansion of operational availability
To expand the scope of operation, COMAC completed the ARJ21 high-altitude flight test at Daocheng Yading Airport (DCY), the world’s highest civil airport with an altitude of 4,411m (14,471ft) above sea level, in July 2020.
The test, after being certified by the CAAC, expanded ARJ21’s flight envelope significantly, making the aircraft capable of reaching all the high-altitude airports scattered in the western part of China, a potential market for which a regional aircraft is ideally suited.
COMAC obtained a validated type certificate (VTC) for the ARJ21 program in February from the directorate general of Civil Aviation (DgCA), Indonesia’s civil aviation authority. This allows the ARJ21 to be operated within Indonesia.
Indonesia’s carrier TransNusa will be the first foreign ARJ21 operator. The ARJ21 with TransNusa’s livery was spotted recently at Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG), where the COMAC ARJ21 FAL is located. And the aircraft is likely to be delivered before the end of this year.
The ARJ21 serialization development
The ARJ21 family has two versions: the ARJ21STD (standard range) and ARJ21ER (extended range). All the ARJ21 delivered by now are the extended version. Additionally, the ARJ21 has a business jet configuration named CBJ (COMAC Business Jet), and it’s been certified with a supplemental type certificate (STC).
The CBJ was presented to the public for the first time at Zhuhai Airshow in November 2021.
In the latest Zhuhai Airshow last month, COMAC presented its medical-transport configuration ARJ21. Also, other ARJ21 modifications, like cargo configuration; configuration for emergency command; and a firefighting configuration, were reported in development.
Will you fly on an ARJ21 if you get the chance? How do you see the ARJ21 program in five years? Please share your thought with Simple Flying in the comments.