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Chinese ARJ21 being tested at Windsor Airport

April 9, 2014, Windsor, Ont. - Windsor is playing a role in the Chinese government’s ambitious push to enter the multibillion-dollar global commercial passenger airline business.


April 9, 2014
By The Windsor Star

Using Windsor International Airport as its flight hub over the next
two months, the Commercial Aircraft of China Corporation is undertaking
tests of its Made-in-China ARJ21 passenger jet, a 78- to 90-seat
aircraft expected to enter service in 2015.

 

With its orange highlights and distinctive Chinese lettering on a
white fuselage, the twin-engined jet arrived Friday and has been flying
in and out of Windsor using leased tarmac space and servicing adjacent
to the western hangars at the airport. An international crew of 70
aviation and engineering specialists are helping put the ARJ21 Xiangfeng
(‘Soaring Phoenix’) through its paces.

 

David Lu, a California-based spokesman for COMAC, told The Star via
email that the jet is “chasing the clouds” over the Great Lakes and
adjacent provinces and states from its Windsor base of operations as
part of the aircraft’s “natural icing certification requirements.”

 

“Any aircraft must be certified to fly into the clouds,” said Wagdi
Habashi, president of Montreal -based Newmerical Technologies
International, one of a number of Canadian and other international
companies involved in the project. Habashi is also a mechanical
engineering professor at McGill University and expert in “aero-icing”
and computational fluid dynamics.

 

The local flights are designed to test flight performance in atmospheric icing conditions.

 

According to aviation experts, China’s eventual goal is to break the
“duopoly” in the large-jet airliner market represented by aerospace
giant Boeing and Europe’s Airbus. As part of that effort, state-owned
COMAC signed a strategic co-operation agreement three years ago with
Canada’s Bombardier Inc.

 

The Chinese air passenger market alone is expected to continue to
grow by five per cent or better annually over the next 20 years,
according to market research conducted by Boeing, which forecasts
China’s airlines requiring 6,000 new airplanes between now and 2032 at a
sales value of US$780 billion.

 

The ARJ21, which stands for Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st
century, began development in 2002 and is already several years behind
its originally scheduled entry into the marketplace. It recently
completed cold weather tests in Inner Mongolia.

 

Given the required confidentiality typical of such commercial
business relationships, Mayor Eddie Francis, who is also the airport’s
acting-CEO, said there’s little he can divulge publicly about COMAC’s
Windsor venture.

 

“All I can say is, we’re very pleased — Windsor Airport continues to
see diversification in a variety of uses,” he said. Hosting COMAC is “a
revenue generator for the airport,” with the local economy, particularly
hotels and eateries, also benefiting from the large group of first-time
visitors.

 

Lu said his company will be “pumping a substantial amount of money
into Windsor’s economy” and that the current arrangement could lead to
further business in the future. He described COMAC’s local presence as
“a feather in

Canada-China’s cap that will hopefully augur a long-term
co-operation in aerospace.”

 

As for the local reception so far, “we must admit that we are in awe
of Windsor’s business and other people’s readiness, co-operation and
welcome,” said Lu.

 

COMAC is also in the midst of developing a second, larger airliner,
the 158-seat C919, for the global market, with a first flight expected
next year and first deliveries before the end of 2016.