In interviews with executives from three different technology suppliers working with Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) to develop passenger jets, Reuters has learned that various tests over the past two years have identified flaws in the ARJ21′s wings, wiring and computer systems.
During a stress test in mid-2010, the wings of the ARJ21 broke, or “cracked” in one executive’s description, before the pressure applied reached regulatory norms.
In further examinations conducted last year, the avionics system — the brain of the plane — failed at times to work properly, highlighting what one of the three suppliers executives described as a “system integration problem.” Faults in the wiring were also discovered in those tests, according to the supplier executives.
The results of the tests have been rumoured among industry insiders, but the Shanghai-based aircraft maker has never spoken publicly about them.
“You should have seen the faces (of Comac engineers and executives)” said one of the three suppliers, who was at the 2010 test in a lab in the central Chinese city of Xi’an, speaking on condition of anonymity. “There was uncomfortable silence in the room.”
Comac declined to comment on the matters raised in this report. But it said one version of the plane – the ARJ21-700 – completed a nearly two-hour test flight in February this year.