Staff of Chengdu Airlines hail the arrival of the first ARJ21 regional jet delivered to the company, which flew from Shanghai to Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, on Nov 29, 2015. (He Haiyang/for China Daily)
The ARJ21, China's first homemade regional jetliner, has been in commercial use for more than two years now, and has netted 433 orders from 20 customers.
Now, the developer of the ARJ21 wants to see if it could go into mass production, further expanding the market by being used on more commercial routes, said Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst and columnist at Carnoc.com, one of China's largest civil aviation web portals.
On Dec 22, the ninth test ARJ21 model made its debut flight in Shanghai, becoming the fourth ARJ21 test aircraft to finish its maiden flight in 2017, according to its manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, or COMAC.
On Dec 13, Chengdu Airlines introduced an ARJ21 airplane on a route connecting Chengdu, Sichuan province in Southwestern China to Shangrao, Jiangxi province in East China. This is the first Chengdu-Shangrao flight operated by Chengdu Airlines.
The aircraft will fly the regional line every Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, according to Chengdu Airlines, a signal that the ARJ21 is making a step forward in its business operations.
The ARJ21 is a domestically built jet with independent intellectual rights and developed in line with international standards. With 78 to 90 seats and a flight range of 2,225 to 3,700 kilometers, it could improve direct flight service between small and medium cities, according to Chengdu Airlines, which took its first ARJ21 delivery in November 2015.
Chengdu Airlines said the ARJ21 aircraft has maintained a high passenger load ratio of nearly 90 percent. It had been used to fly from Chengdu to Shanghai, Chengdu to Changsha, Hunan province and then to Shanghai, as well as Chengdu to Jinan, Shandong province.
So far, Chengdu Airlines has three ARJ21 aircraft, and they have flown safely for about 1,200 hours, carrying more than 30,000 passengers. Currently, they are used on three routes, including Chengdu to Changsha, Chengdu to Hefei, Anhui province, and Chengdu to Shangrao.
"After the ARJ21 enters the mature period of operation, Chengdu Airlines will design more regional, tourism and plateau flights, which can better reflect the performance and branding of the ARJ21 and increase its market acceptability through various routes," said Zhang Fang, deputy general manager of Chengdu Airlines.
"Meanwhile, we will further expand its reach in second and third-tier cities in China, as we constantly enlarge the fleet," Zhang said, adding that the airline will work together with COMAC to forge a better Chinese commercial aircraft brand.