Chinese aerospace conglomerate AVIC I unveiled the new ARJ21-700 regional jet during a rollout ceremony in Shanghai today for a select group of official guests and government-approved media. Officials used the occasion to reveal a new Chinese name for the 90-seat airplane–Xiang Feng, or Flying Phoenix–and announce a 100-unit commitment from Kunpeng Airlines. China’s Shenzhen Airlines and Mesa Air Group of the U.S. launched this new Xian-based domestic carrier in October with Bombardier CRJ200s. AVIC I Commercial Aircraft (ACAC) now claims to hold orders and MoUs for more than 170 ARJ21s.
China plans to fly the airplane for the first time in March and deliver the first airplane to launch customer Shandong Airlines in September 2009. Although it has yet to secure a Western customer, ACAC plans to certify the airplane to international standards with the help of a new FAA office in Shanghai. Some 40 percent of the ARJ21’s components come from outside China, including its GE CF34-10A turbofans and Rockwell Collins Pro Line avionics.
Meanwhile, Canada’s Bombardier could help develop the fuselage for the planned 105-seat ARJ21-900. Under the proposed partnership, ACAC would spend $400 million in R&D and plant construction to support the Canadian company’s still theoretical C Series.