FAA Opens Certification Office In China

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As U.S. aircraft manufacturers continue to complain about the shortage of FAA inspectors and certification staff on home turf comes word that the agency is reaching out to China to speed development of its new regional jet program. The FAA opened an office in Shanghai last Friday aimed at funneling U.S. technology into the new ARJ-21, a 70-to-100-seat twinjet that’s expected to fly early next year. About 40 percent of the aircraft’s parts will come from foreign suppliers, many of them American, and the new office is expected to help smooth that process. "This is certainly facilitating the exchange of aeronautical products between the United States and China," John Hickey, head of certification services for the FAA, told The Associated Press. The burgeoning aviation market in China is seen as a pot of gold for U.S. companies but the Chinese bureaucracy has been slow to adapt to the opportunities and demand. The FAA’s stamp of approval on the ARJ-21 would make it a legitimate contender in the still-growing RJ market, which is now dominated by Canada’s Bombardier and Brazil’s Embraer. Despite the bureaucratic challenges of operating in China, several U.S. companies have opened there, including FedEx, which is building a hub in the business center of Guangzhou in southern China.