Marking a historical moment for China’s burgeoning aviation industry, three major Chinese airlines took delivery of their first ARJ21s on Sunday, China’s first domestically developed regional jet.
The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, the jet’s developer which is based in Shanghai, handed over three ARJ21s to Air China, China Eastern and China Southern at its assembly line near Pudong International Airport, SHINE.cn reported.
It is the first time the regional jet, which has a range of up to 3,700 kilometers, has entered the fleets of major international carriers, COMAC said.
The three ARJ21s flew to Capital International Airport in Beijing, Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai and Baiyun International Airport in Guanghzou, after a delivery ceremony amid a downfall on Sunday morning, SHINE reported.
COMAC plans to deliver another two ARJ21s to each of the three major carriers by the end of 2020. The nine jets are scheduled to start their commercial operations with the carriers by December, said Zhang Xiaoguang, marketing and sales department director with COMAC.
Air China, China Eastern and China Southern purchased 35 ARJ21s each from the COMAC in August 2019. The 105 jets will be delivered to the carriers between 2020 and 2024, SHINE reported.
The total orders for the ARJ21 have been about 600 from more than 20 customers from both home and abroad, according to COMAC.
The delivery on Sunday was held on the same day the first ARJ21 began commercial operation with its first operator, Chengdu Airlines, on June 28, 2016.
Since then, COMAC has delivered 32 ARJ21s to Chengdu Airlines, Jiangxi Air, Urumqi Air and Genghis Khan Airlines. The planes link 55 cities and have transported more than 890,000 passengers safely, SHINE reported.
It began its first regular international duties between northeast China and east Russia with Chengdu Airlines in October last year.
“COMAC has made full preparation for flying, crew and maintenance for the deliveries to the three major carriers,” said Zhang. “More than 700 staff, including pilots and crew members, have been trained.”
All the first batch of three ARJ21s have the 90-seat all-economy configuration, SHINE reported. The seats are wider and have larger spaces between each other, according to COMAC.
The three carriers will carry out a series of test flights before launching commercial operations.