The first production ARJ-21, serial number 105, has taken its first test flight in Shanghai. The aircraft is destined for launch customer Chengdu Airlines early next year, which has 30 on order. The ARJ-21-700 will seat between 70-95 passengers, depending on configuration. The aircraft uses GE CF-34-10 engines, similar to the CRJ-700/900 and EJets, and incorporates components from 19 Western suppliers.
Originally launched in 2002 and planned commercial entry into service in 2007, the program has been plagued by numerous delays, and seems likely enter service 8 years later than initially planned. COMAC is seeking FAA certification for this aircraft, which the FAA has indicated must be completed before it examines the forthcoming C919.
The ARJ-21 appears to be a copy of the MD-80, which at one point was built in China, and the program is purported to use some of the same tooling. The resemblance to the DC-9 family is striking. The plane does feature a new supercritical wing with 25 degree sweep, different engines, and is touted as the first Chinese designed passenger jet.
With 309 orders and a planned production rate of 30 aircraft in the first year, moving to 50 subsequently, the backlog for the program is six and a half years. Hopefully the aircraft will meet the latest of multiple revisions to its schedule.