Yet another thing has been labeled with the three words that we are all too familiar with: “Made in China”. This time, it’s an ARJ21 jet named “Xiang Feng”.
China’s first home-grown regional jet rolled off the production line in Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Factory last month, along with its name being unveiled at the roll-out ceremony. “Xiang Feng”, which means “flying phoenix”, was chosen in a global competition via the Internet.
Designed and produced by China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I), the ARJ21-700 jet can carry 90 passengers with a maximum range of 2,000 nautical miles. Its maiden flight is scheduled to take place in March 2008, and it is expected to be delivered to the first customers in the third quarter of 2009 after it receives its airworthiness certification in the first half of the same year.
According to vice chief designer Chen Yong, the jet will have to go through more than 170 tests before it gets the certification. He also stated that the ARJ21 focuses on comfort, with a passenger cabin 123 inches wide and seats 0.9 inch wider than that of the Boeing 737, calling the plane’s cabin one of the amplest of any regional plane in the world.
AVIC I has already received orders for “Xiang Feng” aircraft from a Laotian airline company and domestic airline companies, some of which are Shenzhen Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and Xiamen Airlines. A source with AVIC I said that the company expects to receive more overseas orders in the first half of 2008.
ARJ21, short for “Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century”, is the first regional jet fully developed by China alone. Currently, China uses foreign-made Boeing, Airbus and Bombardier planes on domestic air routes. AVIC I sees the ARJ21 taking up to 60 percent of the domestic market for mid-size regional airliners over the next 20 years.