COMAC, the Chinese aircraft manufacturer, has announced the completion of the development of a passenger-to-freighter conversion project for its ARJ21 regional jet.
The company unveiled the program at a ceremony held at its Shanghai research and development center, where it had been showcasing mock-ups and sketches of the ARJ21-700F at air shows for several years.
The manufacturer has long stated that its twin-engine regional jet would have a role to play in the freighter market.
The conversion project, which began in May 2020, lasted nearly three years and included the preliminary design, modification implementation, design freeze, and final design stages.
Now, the remaining steps include the construction, engineering tests such as ground tests and test flights, and the approval of the airworthiness compliance report and obtaining the supplemental type certificate (STC).
The cargo-converted ARJ21 is expected to become a leading regional air cargo market aircraft, with a maximum commercial cargo capacity of 10 tons and the ability to accommodate various types of standard pallets (ULD).
The main cargo door will be electrically powered, the aircraft will have advanced monitoring and warning systems, and specially designed fire suppression and air conditioning systems.
According to Cirium, there are currently 88 ARJ21-700s in service. At present, the only ARJ21-700F freighter is operated by YTO Cargo Airlines and is in storage.
The conversion program currently has two customers, Zhongyuan Longhao and Yuantong Aviation, who will receive the first two aircraft respectively.