China Aviation Industry Corporation’s New ARJ21

China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC I), a state-owned company based in Shanghai, is currently assembling a 70 to 90 seat passenger jet with high hopes of using this new airplane to establish China in the world market as a major airplane manufacturer. The new airplane has been named the ARJ21 – Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century. The first test flight is expected to take place in March 2008.

ARJ21 is China’s first independently developed passenger jet, although the engines will be made by the American company, General Electric. AVIC I believe that this could be the beginning of a trend that will lead to China building its own jumbo jets in the not too distant future. A model of the ARJ21 was on display at an aviation trade show in Beijing recently and is aiming primarily for the Chinese market. It is specifically designed to cope with the high temperatures and high altitude that are experienced in China’s western regions.

China’s state-run media have reported that 71 of the new ARJ21s have already been sold to domestic airlines such as Shanghai Airlines. Plans are also being worked on to produce a larger 150 seat version of the ARJ21. The ultimate aim of AVIC I is to market the ARJ21 abroad. This would require obtaining test flight licences from either Europe or the United States.

In a recent forecast it was estimated that China would require approximately 3,400 new airplanes over the next twenty years. With a rapidly expanding market, China is dedicated to developing the local manufacture of passenger aircraft, thereby benefiting the economy. Currently all airplanes being used by China have been manufactured elsewhere, and in view of the fact that China is one of the largest nations in the world, this is considered to be an unacceptable situation. AVIC I believes that it has the expertise and economic resources to make a success of this project and to go on to manufacturing larger airplanes, fulfilling all of China’s aircraft requirements.

There is no doubt among aviation experts that China has the technical know-how and economic resources to manufacture airplanes, but whether they will be able to break into international markets with their product remains to be seen.