China's Airliner Program Stalled: Report

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As the airline industry gathers for the International Air Transport Association meeting in Beijing, a Reuters report is suggesting China's ambitious plans to develop its own airliners have suffered serious setbacks. Although Chinese officials haven't commented about it, Reuters said it spoke with three suppliers involved with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac) effort to certify the 90-seat ARJ21 regional jet who claim Chinese authorities have found serious flaws with the test aircraft. Reuters said they were told the aircraft failed a wing loading test, its avionics have been unreliable and there are wiring issues. Last month it was announced that certification has been pushed back to sometime in 2013, five years behind schedule.

At the same time, the company is also trying to develop a 160-seat airliner that would complete with Boeing and Airbus single-aisle airliners. Comac is hoping to have the C919 ready by 2016, but it's not clear how the alleged issues with the regional jet will affect that timeline. Chinese certification may be a moot point, however. The FAA says it won't approve the aircraft until it assesses the Chinese authorities' ability to assess either jet's airworthiness.