China Express Takes Its First COMAC ARJ21

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Chinese planemaker COMAC is proud to announce that another customer has taken delivery of their first ARJ21 regional aircraft. On November 10th, a signing ceremony was held to confirm the order of 100 Chinese-made commercial aircraft. The event was paired with a delivery ceremony of the airline’s first ARJ21 aircraft in Chongqing.

ARJ21 water salute
So far, all customer airlines of the ARJ21 have been Chinese carriers. Photo: Getty Images

“ARJ21 aircraft will further supplement the regional aircraft transport capacity of China Express and improve the overall route network layout; and the mature regional route operation experience of China Express will also promote ARJ21 aircraft to set up a brand and create benefits.”COMAC

The first China Express ARJ21

According to COMAC, on the morning of November 10th, an ARJ21 aircraft painted in China Express livery made a smooth landing at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport. The jet was registered as B-650P. According to Planespotters.net, this aircraft is about four months old and was initially set to go to Chengdu Airlines. However, that order was not taken up. This is what COMAC had to say as part of its press release:

“This indicates that ARJ21 aircraft has officially joined the fleet of China Express, which has focused on regional aviation operation in China for a long time. The number of operators of the China-made commercial aircraft is increased to seven, and the regional aviation network in China will be further enriched to promote the popularized development of the civil aviation industry.” -COMAC

A special event

At the event was a respectable list of VIPs from the airline, COMAC, and the Chinese government. They include the following:

  • The First-Level Inspector of the Basic Industries Department of National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC)
  • The Deputy Director of the Equipment Industry Department II of Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT)
  • The Secretary of the Party Committee and Chairman of COMAC and his deputy
  • The Chairman of China Express
  • The CEO of China Express
  • The President of SPDB Financial Leasing Co., Ltd.
  • The Director of the Development & Planning Department of Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC),

In addition to speeches, Mr. Zhao Yuerang, Deputy Secretary of the Party Committee and President of COMAC, presented a commemorative key to Mr. Wu Longjiang, the CEO of China Express.

A number of certificates were presented at the event. The Vice President of COMAC issued an aircraft sales certificate to the Vice President of SPDB Financial Leasing while the Deputy Director of the CAAC’s Southwest Regional Administration issued the Registration Certificate, Airworthiness Certificate, and Radio Station License for this first ARJ21.

CRJ-900 China Express
Before this week’s ARJ21 delivery, China Express was operating only Airbus A320s and Bombardier CRJ-900s (pictured here). Photo: byeangel via Wikimedia Commons 

The first private airline customer

The delivery ceremony has extra significance for COMAC as it ushered in the first private enterprise user. Additionally, the signing of a 100-aircraft deal marks the largest order to date for the ARJ21. The deal consists of 50 ARJ21s with the other 50 as flexible orders – interchangeable between the ARJ21 or C919.

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COMAC notes that this is an indication that the ARJ21 has gained more recognition from customers “after more than four years of market-oriented operation.” COMAC also notes that  this is a key step “in the large-scale and industrialized development of the China-made commercial aircraft.”

Do you think more private airlines and perhaps even some non-Chinese airlines will purchase the ARJ21? Let us know in the comments.

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