COMAC has received the airworthiness approval for the freighter version of the ARJ21-700. During a ceremony in Shanghai on January 6, the documents were formally handed over by the CAAC. COMAC gets approval for ARJ21 Freighter conversion.

The Chinese airframer has been working on the freighter conversion program of the ARJ21 since May 2020. After the preliminary design, detailed design, modification, and implementation, COMAC says it completed a compliance verification test flight and an airworthiness compliance report in December. The CAAC approved the program on January 1.

The ARJ21F will get a forward main cargo door for the loading of up to five LD7-sized containers or pallets. Maximum payload capacity is said to be 10.500 kilograms. “The ARJ21 Passenger to Cargo is committed to becoming the main model of the regional air cargo market, with a maximum commercial load of 10 tons, safe and reliable, flexible and convenient, high volume utilization, good versatility of the container,” COMAC says in a media statement.

According to the production list, 108 ARJ21s have been built since 2007. They are in service with the Big Three Air China, China Southern, OTT/China Eastern, Chengdu Airlines, and a few smaller airlines. The oldest aircraft in active service with Chengdu is just over eight years old, but some unspecified aircraft are eligible for passenger-to-freighter conversions. Chengdu Airlines has been operating the type on numerous cargo-only flights since the start of the pandemic in 2020

According to COMAC, the first operators of the freighters will be Zhongyuan Longhao and Yuangton Aviation. Zhongyuan is a cargo operator based in Guangzhou that currently operates eleven Boeing 737s and announced an order for five 767Fs in 2021. Yuangton Aviation is based in Hangzhou and operates ten 757s, two 767s, and a single 737. According to Planespotters, the first ARJ21F for Yuangton is a former Chengdu Airlines aircraft that has been in preparation since September 2021.

The ARJ21F is the latest member of the ARJ21 family, which also includes a business jet and a medical version. The latter was on display in November in Zhuhai during the Airshow China. The first ARJ21 for a foreign customer was delivered in December, when Indonesia’s Transnusa received an aircraft.

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Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News. From January 2023, he will add a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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