COMAC Delivers First ARJ21 From Shanghai Production Line

China’s COMAC has delivered its first ARJ21 from its new production line in Shanghai, ramping up production on…

COMAC Delivers First ARJ21 From Shanghai Production Line

China’s COMAC has delivered its first ARJ21 from its new production line in Shanghai, ramping up production on the model to meet local demand. The aircraft will fly for the local carrier Chengdu Airlines.

Chengdu Airlines was the launch customer for the ARJ21 in 2016. Photo: Peng Chen via Flickr

What is the ARJ21?

As much of the aviation world is focusing on existing airlines during the crisis, the Chinese have been quietly resumed production of their first aircraft model, the COMAC ARJ21.

This aircraft is designed for the regional areas of Asia and Africa. The plane has two models, one that 90 passengers to a range of 2,000 nautical miles (3,700 km; 2,300 mi) and a 2nd bigger version that carries 105 passengers to a range of 1,800 nautical miles (3,300 km; 2,100 mi).

You may notice that these range numbers and passenger numbers are quite low, but they are perfect for what the aircraft is designed for. Regional filler routes to connect remote settlements and transfer passengers to bigger airports.

COMAC is also working on a Boeing 737-like variant and a Boeing 787-like version to carry passengers beyond the regional space. There is also a rumor of a Boeing 777/Airbus A350 variant, but details are slim. 

Comac-arj21-second-assembly-line
Comac has just opened a second assembly line in Shanghai. Photo: Charly W. Karl via Flickr.

Why is this delivery significant?

As reported by Flight Global, this delivery to Chengdu Airlines is significant that it is the first aircraft delivered from the new Shanghai Pudong production line. This production line is the second in the ARJ21 series and will allow COMAC to catch up on delayed orders.

And boy, there are a lot of them! COMAC currently has ‘reportedly’ 378 orders and has only built 24 production line aircraft. These orders are nearly all from Chinese airlines, but there is also an African airline even buying the type (likely for political favors). Allegedly there is an Indonesian carrier with an order for 60 of the model, but it has not been revealed.

Lastly, the US firm General Electric through its GECAS aviation leasing firm has an order for five ARJ21s (and an option for 20 more). This is because the powerplant on the ARJ21 is from GE, and they want some display models to show off the product to new clients.

This new production line will build 30 aircraft a year.

The ARJ21 has been popular with smaller airlines in China. Photo: Genghis Khan Airlines

Why is the ARJ21 unpopular outside of China?

Why is the COMAC ARJ21 seemingly unpopular? Why has it got very few orders with Western or European airlines?

There are several different factors at play here. The first is that the COMAC ARJ21 is untested technology, and airlines don’t want to spend billions on new aircraft that may not operate flawlessly (you only need to look at the SJ100 to see what happened there).

Additionally, you need to consider maintenance issues. Beyond merely having an aircraft, airlines also need to factor in repairs and having an accredited engineer on-call, as well as the availability of spare parts. This is something that COMAC does not have outside of China.

Lastly, is the ARJ21 the best aircraft on the market? The Airbus A220, while bigger, outperforms the COMAC edition. Embraer brings its regional jet to the table; their E-Jet series will make anyone pause an ARJ21 purchase.

COMAC has a long way to go until the world accepts the ARJ21, but getting them out the door is a significant first step.

What do you think? Will you fly on the ARJ21? Let us know in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Air India Bid Deadline Extended Until Late June

In light of current circumstances, the government of India has extended the deadline for bids for Air India.…

Air India Bid Deadline Extended Until Late June

In light of current circumstances, the government of India has extended the deadline for bids for Air India. The new date, June 30th, gives potential bidders two more months to submit an offer for the state-run carrier.

The government is hoping to fully privatize Air India. Photo: José Luis Celada Euba via Wikimedia Commons

More extensions on the cards

The government’s decision hardly comes as a surprise considering the current conditions. However, this could be the first of many extensions as companies and airlines deal with heavy financial losses. Many potential bidders for the airline, such as the Tata Group (majority owners of Vistara and AirAsia India) and Hinduja Group, will likely wait for their financial situations to improve before such a purchase.

Vistara A320neo
The Tata Group, which owns a majority of Vistara and AirAsia, is considering a bid for Air India. Photo: Raju Sundaram via Wikimedia Commons.

The coronavirus has forced carriers around the world into survival mode, including Air India. The airline has struggled to pay salaries and is hoping for a government bailout in order to remain afloat. With other airlines in similar situations, it seems unlikely any airline will be looking to buy Air India right now, or even in the coming years.

How lucrative is Air India?

An important question to ask in this difficult time for this industry is how lucrative Air India is. The Air India sale comes with a $3.07bn string attached to it, which is a percentage of the airline’s debt. This is in addition to its very large staff, outdated cabins, and maintenance issues. However, the airline does have a fleet of 128 aircraft (excluding subsidiaries), a majority of which it owns, and valuable slots at airports like Heathrow.

Air India Narrowbody
Bidders might be rethinking any investments in the aviation industry. Photo: Getty Images

The questions bidders will have to ask themselves is how valuable planes and slots are in a time when demand is nonexistent. Even though India is in desperate need of a new international carrier, the coming months will tell us how soon the aviation market in India, and globally, will rebound.

Overall

The coronavirus has undoubtedly put any large aviation deal in jeopardy. Just this week we saw Boeing terminate its deal with Embraer, and previously saw LOT Polish airlines pull out of its purchase of Condor. Even Jet Airways has likely lost any hope of restarting in these tumultuous times. While Air India is in a much better position than other airlines, primarily due to its backing from the Indian government, the coronavirus does change the calculus of any potential deal.

The coming months could see more extensions, as airlines recover from the current shock. We may also see deep-pocketed firms picking up the airline while competition is low and capitalize on this opportunity. With the aviation industry still grounded, only time will tell us how the demand for large airline purchases will recover.

What do you think of Air India privatization? Let us know in the comments below.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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