28 MAY 2012
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China's first passenger jet, the 90-seat ARJ21, is unlikely to get regulatory approval before 2013, Reuters reports from Beijing, putting it about five years behind its maker's original schedule. It is in most respects a development of the MD 90 series.
The delay could also disrupt plans to develop the 168-seat C919 jet aimed at breaking the global dominance of Airbus and Boeing. Michael O’Leary of Ryanair has visited China and expressed an interest in the project. Whether this is serious, or a manoeuvre by the wily Irishman, is difficult to establish. O’Leary says that he needs new aircraft, but unlike the previous occasion when sales were difficult to come by, this time around both major manufacturers have full order books.
Tian Min, Chief Financial Officer of the state-controlled Commercial Aircraft of China (Comac), speaking at a conference in Beijing, declined to go into details when asked the reason for the delay.
Industry insiders – including executives of technology suppliers to Comac – said that any delay in the ARJ21 would likely disrupt the C919 as well.
But Tian said that the bigger aircraft was on track for a 2014 maiden flight and should get airworthiness approval from the Civil Aviation Administration of China as scheduled by 2016. http://english.comac.cc
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