Chengdu Airlines will be the first operator of the type, taking delivery of two examples later this year. They will undertake pilot training, before entering service on domestic regional flights from its home base. The airline, which is owned by Comac, will eventually take 30 of the smaller ARJ21-700 variants.
To date there are orders for 342 ARJ21-700s from carriers mainly situated in China and the Far East. The larget ARJ21-900 is still on hold, with no orders.
Despite this entry into service of the first two aircraft, Comac does not anticipate beginning the production until later in 2016 when the relevant certification has been received. It has also abandoned plans to have the aircraft certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) after ongoing delays.
The Comac ARJ21 very much resembles the Douglas DC-9 and Boeing 717 in my eyes, and has similarities to the Bombardier CRJ. The ARJ21-700 model can carry up to 90 passengers and has a range of 2,000 miles in the ER version, making it ideal for covering the Chinese regional market.
The two aircraft expected to enter service with Chengdu Airlines are B-010L and B-938L (c/n 105 and 106 respectively). B-1110L (c/n 104) has also been part of the testing process.