China May Delay Passenger Jet to Midyear

Because of delays in its supply chain, China's ARJ21 regional jet might not make its maiden flight until July or later

Not too much should be made of this for in the aviation industry worldwide it is a far too common situation. China may postpone the maiden flight of the ARJ21, or Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century, its first passenger jet, by at least four months because of supplier delays.

The flight, scheduled for this month, is now likely to take place in July or even later.

The jet uses parts from Rockwell Collins, Honeywell, Parker Hannifin, United Technologies. and General Electric.

The ARJ21 is the first step in China's ambition to become a global aircraft maker and capitalize on a domestic market forecast to need as many as 3,400 new planes in the next 20 years.

Chen Jin, vice president of Shanghai-based AVIC I Commercial Aircraft, said 'We're still doing assessments, and if the results show that certain things aren't up to standard, then we may have to delay.'

The ARJ21 will enter a regional-jet market dominated by Bombardier Inc. and Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA. The ARJ21 will be priced similarly to the $30 million Embraer 175 jet.

Engineers are still conducting ground tests and experiments on the ARJ21.

Song Yiping, Shanghai-based ARJ21 project manager for Rockwell Collins said, 'I would guess that some Western-supplied systems may be behind schedule,' said . 'There are rumors that one or two suppliers might be delayed.' Rockwell Collins, which is supplying electronics, is on schedule.

Every component supplier issued a statement saying their deliveries were going to schedule. But as Mandy Rice-Davis famously said, 'They would say that, wouldn't they?'

Looking ahead, the Chinese government and its aerospace companies AVIC I and AVIC II plan to invest 'tens of billions of yuan' in a company to design and build a 150-seat jetliner within the next decade, AVIC II President Zhang Hongbiao said in Beijing.

According to Boeing, China, the world's second-largest air travel market, may need as many as 3,400 new planes in the next 20 years.

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