China’s entry into the world aerospace industry appears to have incurred some substantial problems. As pointed out in the article, COMAC has discovered flaws in the wings, wiring and computer systems of the ARJ21—all of which appear to be systems integration issues. Most telling is a wing failure that occurred during a static test before reaching acceptable stress levels.
The CAAC is responsible for certificating the COMAC ARJ21 and the C919, and the FAA is performing a shadow certification with the CAAC as the CAAC oversees and manages the ARJ21certification program per its certification regulations and requirements that mirror the FAA’s. This is especially important considering that COMAC wants to offer the ARJ21 and C919 for air carriers worldwide as an alternative to Airbus and Boeing airplanes.
It is very difficult to gain FAA acceptance for the certification of aircraft by the CAAC or any CAA which does not have extensive experience in this arena. The business of designing and manufacturing commercial airplanes is an extraordinarily complex engineering and technical enterprise; COMAC is new to that task. Equally demanding is the role of the civil aviation authority to review and approve the work of the applicant.
It’s a delicate and challenging scenario – COMAC is seeking its first Type Certificate initial TC, CAAC is exercising its TC authority for the first time and the FAA is watching and assessing. Communications between all these entities can be very sensitive, i.e. does CAAC demonstrate to the FAA how aggressive it is in its regulating this process and tell the FAA that COMAC has problems? How detailed should such a revelation be, enough to show how analytical CAAC is or does the government-to-government message suggest that COMAC is years away from being certificated? This is not a conversation which allows for any indiscretions and the text would be better scripted with advisers who have done this before such as http://jdasolutions.aero/services/Share this article: