China’s burgeoning aviation industry is staying on course, despite the Covid-19 outbreak.
The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) is boosting production of its ARJ21-700 regional jet following the opening of a second assembly line at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, AINonline reported.
According to a company statement, aircraft 132 recently completed its first production test flight, staying airborne for a total of 3 hours and 50 minutes before returning safely to its base, the report said.
Officials said that while the work at the production line gradually accelerated since last year, the flight marks the first time an ARJ21 has moved through the entire assembly cycle to a production test flight at the company’s Pudong facilities, the report said.
The latest manufacturing line holds the capacity to assemble 30 aircraft per year with room to create a second line to further boost production rates, the report said.
COMAC had previously said that it would need a new line due to space constraints at its Shanghai aircraft manufacturing facility on Changzhong Road, as capacity at that plant cannot exceed 15 ARJ21s per year. To date, COMAC has delivered a total of 23 ARJ21s to Chinese operators.
This year’s new batch of ARJ21s will benefit from a complete flight deck redesign featuring a better-organized grouping of switches, instruments, and displays to increase situational awareness and simplify workload, the report said.
One of the biggest development impediments since the aircraft began flight testing in 2008 involved avionics integration.
Designers expect the new layout, successfully tested on the ARJ21’s flight simulator, to significantly reduce the amount of pilot training required on the type, the report said.
In addition to the ARJ21 program, Pudong also is home to the development of COMAC’s C919 narrowbody as well as the chosen spot for the assembly of the Sino-Russian CRAIC CR929 widebody.
On March 2, the fifth prototype of China’s home-built C919, coded 105, carried out a successful wet runway taxi test from Comac’s facility at Nanchang Yaohu Airport following by a scientific research flight on March 5.
Meanwhile, Russia and China plan to complete the CR929 program sometime between 2025 and 2027.