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Indonesia: first COMAC ARJ21 delivered outside China begins its commercial flights


Nov 4, 2011
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Indonesia: first COMAC ARJ21 delivered outside China begins its commercial flights​




Indonesian airline TransNusa inaugurated scheduled commercial operations of its first ARJ21 aircraft, developed by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC). In doing so, it became the first operator of the type outside the Asian giant.

First flight of a COMAC ARJ21 for a foreign operator

The inaugural service was completed four months after TransNusa took delivery of the aircraft, registered PK-TJA. Yesterday, it operated flight 8B 5112. It departed Jakarta (CGK) at 13:13 local time and arrived in Denpasar (DPS), Bali, almost an hour and a half later.

The company, part-owned by China Aircraft Leasing Group (CALC), a subsidiary of China Everbright Bank, celebrated the start of flights of its ARJ21 after meeting the requirements set by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation of Indonesia (DGCA) to obtain operational clearance.

TransNusa bets on the ARJ21​

TransNusa’s new management committed to renewing the fleet by acquiring fifty Airbus A320neo and thirty COMAC ARJ21, with an option to purchase a further thirty. The first aircraft introduced has an interior configuration of 95 seats, all of them in a single class.

The COMAC ARJ21 is powered by two GE CF34-10A engines. It is equipped with a flight control system manufactured by Honeywell and avionics developed by Collins Aerospace. It performs well in high temperature and crosswind conditions, making it suitable for Indonesia’s climate and geography.

According to COMAC, it has a range of up to 3.700 kilometres, depending on operating conditions.

“We believe that ARJ21 aircraft can well match the rapidly developing aviation market in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, and provide passengers with high-quality air travel options”, said Bernard Francis, CEO of TransNusa. Today, the Indonesian market is one of the fastest growing in the world.

The long history of the ARJ21​

Following problems with the Xian MA-60 turboprop, China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) initiated the ARJ21 project in 2002. Seven years later, development of the new aircraft was handed over to COMAC. While the original plan was to complete the commercial introduction of the model in 2005, the programme was delayed due to various design and production problems.

The first prototype was introduced in 2007 and the maiden flight was completed on 28 November 2008.

The design is similar to that of the older DC-9 or MD-80. However, the Chinese manufacturer has continuously stressed that this is a new product with domestically produced technology.

On 30 December 2014, and after completing a programme of more than 5.000 flight hours, the ARJ 21-700 received its type certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). Chengdu Airlines took delivery of the first airplane in November the following year and only in June 2016 the first commercial flight was completed.

In 2017, the CAAC certified the mass production of the ARJ21. Since then, COMAC has the capacity to manufacture up to thirty aircraft per year at its Shanghai facility. While the type is part of the fleets of several Chinese operators, TransNusa is the first foreign airline to use it.


China has made significant inroads into global phone and car market in the past decades, should now work on cracking into global aircrafts and aviation marekt in the next decade.
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ARJ21 is beinng used by airlines flying between Xinjiang cities​

ARJ21 operations cover five different cities in Xinjiang: Aral, Korla, Yining, Hotan, and Shihezi. Yining and Shihezi are traditional Northern Xinjiang cities, while Aral, Hotan, and Korla are located in Southern Xinjiang. Xinjiang is divided into Northern and Southern Xinjiang by the well-known Tianshan Mountains.

Xinjiang's location is well positioned for regional aviation due to the central Asian countries that border it. Regional aviation also benefits the local economy, allowing for faster trade and airports serving as hubs for delivery companies.

Therefore, regional aviation is an essential form of transportation in Xinjiang. It can foster economic and tourism growth, as well as provide access to goods and services that were previously less accessible. As the government continues to invest in aviation infrastructure in Xinjiang, with an especially strong focus on regional aviation, this could be a valuable route forward for the region.

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