Major Chinese airlines are looking away from Airbus and Boeing and investing in Chinese-made aircraft in a peculiarly imitative order.
The Comac ARJ21 is intended primarily for regional and feeder traffic and offers a seating capacity of 90 in a single-class configuration or 78 seats in a two-class configuration. Range is up to 1,400 miles on standard aircraft and up to 2,300 miles on the ER variant. The aircraft uses General Electric engines.
The list price for each order is $1.33BN ($38MN per aircraft), though airlines always receive substantial negotiated discounts. Deliveries will take place between 2020 and 2024.
You have to wonder if these three orders are intended to send a political message. For decades China has attempted to build its own domestically-produced jet business. Thus far, it has fallen short. But Comac has now has orders for over 300 ARJ21s and has much grander aspirations for expansion. Comac has also secured more than 300 firm orders and 700 order commitments for its C919, which will take on the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX.
Unlike in prior generations of Chinese aircraft research and development, the technology is now quite advanced. Boeing and Airbus should not underestimate the growing influence of Comac and its potential to transform the lucrative Chinese market.