The maiden flight of China's first homegrown regional jet, the ARJ21-700, could be delayed to the end of November, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Ltd. (COMAC) announced on Tuesday.
The company said last month that the maiden flight was expected to be in October, but it could be delayed depending on the weather, said COMAC chairman Zhang Qingwei.
The ARJ21 had entered the final stage of development, with test pilots practicing starting-up and taxiing, Zhang said at the launch of COMAC Shanghai Aircraft Customer Service Co., Ltd. The new firm will provide aircraft maintenance and repair, pilot training, aviation equipment and materials leasing and consulting for aviation technologies for both large planes and regional aircraft.
The plane for the maiden flight had three seats: two for the test crew and one for an observer, he said. The third test plane would be equipped with passenger seat.
"Everything is ready after numerous tests. I'm confident of a smooth maiden flight."
Delivery of the aircraft would begin after 18 months of test flights of four more ARJ21s, said Xu Jun, deputy head of the Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Factory.
The ARJ21, an acronym for "Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century," is the first regional jet that China has fully developed independently, in accordance with the standards set by General Administration of Civil Aviation of China (GACAC), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA).
The ARJ21, which is expected to sell for US$27 million to US$29 million, can seat 70 to 110 and has a maximum range of 2,000 nautical miles. It is the world's first aircraft designed for China's natural environment and is capable of landing and taking off in the extreme weathers on western China.
(Xinhua News Agency October 8, 2008)