The first production ARJ-21, serial number 105, has taken its first test flight in Shanghai.  The aircraft is destined for launch customer early next year, which has 30 on order.  The ARJ-21-700 will seat between 70-95 passengers, depending on configuration.  The aircraft uses CF-34-10 engines, similar to the CRJ-700/900 and EJets, and incorporates components from 19 Western suppliers.

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Originally launched in 2002 and planned commercial in 2007, the program has been plagued by numerous delays, and seems likely enter service 8 years later than initially planned.  COMAC is seeking 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.

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