Xi’an Aircraft Industries delivered the first sets of ARJ21-700 wings and main fuselage sections for final assembly to Shanghai Aircraft Company early last month, heralding the start of final assembly of the 90-seat jet design’s first prototype. The milestone deliveries nearly coincided with the opening of an office by the FAA in Shanghai to support Chinese authorities’ efforts to meet international certification standards.
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The 80-seat Antonov An-148-100 won type approval from Russian and Ukrainian authorities in late February, marking the successful completion of the first new regional jet design in the former Soviet Union since the fall of the Iron Curtain.
Siberian regional airline UTair has selected the Franco-Italian ATR 42 as its primary growth platform in the first-ever open tender for regional turboprops held by a Russian airline. UTair, ATR and Irish leasing company Magellan Air signed the respective letters of intent for five used ATR 42-300s on August 5, some three weeks before the parties expected to sign a firm contract.
The Czech government has pledged $13.5 million over three years to a consortium of 16 companies to build and market a nine- to 14-seat twin turboprop dubbed the EV-55. Organized by the Czech Aviation Manufacturers’ Association and led by Kunovice-based Evektor, the program would awaken a virtually inactive Czech civil aerospace industry and help regain some of the status it enjoyed during the peak of Let 410 and Zlin glider production.
Thirteen years after American Utilicraft filed patents for its FF-1080 Freight Feeder, “the project is moving from the design engineering phase to getting ready to start cutting metal on the prototype,” said company president and CEO John Dupont last month. Though the aftermath of 9/11 slowed development by the Lawrenceville, Ga. startup, Dupont added, he now expects a preproduction model to be airborne in about a year.
Manassas, Va.-based Colgan Air will fly fifteen 74-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprops under a 10-year capacity purchase agreement that Colgan’s new owner, Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines, signed with Continental Airlines last month. The deal will see Colgan fly the new airplanes, scheduled for delivery from this December through June of next year, from Continental’s Newark, N.J. hub starting next January.
Bombardier appears no closer to a decision about whether to launch or scrub the nascent C Series program after president and COO Pierre Beaudoin revealed on January 31 that the company has moved back its target date for certification by another three years. Now, if the program ever does materialize, it would enter service in 2013, said Beaudoin.
Bombardier Aerospace yesterday revealed it will build a component manufacturing facility in Querétaro, Mexico, to begin operations next May, initially producing wire harnesses but eventually having the capability for "final aircraft assembly." Later next year the facility is scheduled to start manufacturing "major structural aircraft components" currently being built by Asian suppliers.
The technical board composed of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, Boeing and associate member Snecma officially launched the Russian Regional Jet program last month following the completion of a full review of the project’s fourth development phase. The decision arose from meetings between Sukhoi and Boeing executives, who discussed details related to marketing and sales, design and development, production, certification and customer support issues.
In response to oil leaks, Dutch civil aviation authorities have instructed operators of Fokker 50 twin turboprops to check the propellers after each flight. The order was issued early last month and Fokker Services is now developing a Service Bulletin that is expected to be issued before year-end.