Reuters news report reveals causes of delays to ARJ21 program in China

A report from Reuters reveals that the ARJ21 aircraft program is being plagued by several issues which are causing the current delays in the program.

This report notes that, according to interviews with individuals familiar with the program, that  tests over the past two years have identified flaws in the ARJ21’s wings, wiring and computer systems. In a test of the load capabilities of the wing structure in 2010, the wings cracked before the required test goal was reached. In 2011,  the avionics system had been experiencing what one source called a “system integration problem.” In addition, faults in the aircraft’s wiring were also discovered. However, Comac has never announced these results, nor confirmed them.

While this Reuters story indicates these issues, Comac has not commented on the report, but has noted that the ARJ21-700 aircraft completed a two-hour test flight in February of 2012 with no issues.

It was announced in April 2012, that the program was unlikely to receive regulatory approval before 2013, which would mean the project would be five years behind its original schedule. Comac has never publicly explained the project’s delays.

The larger issue, according to the Reuters article, is what effects the delays to the ARJ21 program will have on the larger C919 aircraft program as well. It is assumed that the delays are likely to set back Comac’s plans to start delivering the 160-seat C919 jetliner by 2016.

However, considering that both programs are highly technical and advanced, some delays must be expected and as one source in the article noted: “You have to remember, Comac is building airplanes that they’ve never built before.”

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