China’s ARJ21 jetliner makes historic international cargo flight

China’s ARJ21 jetliner, converted for cargo, completed its first international flight from Yining to Tashkent. With a 10-tonne capacity, this marks a significant step in expanding China’s presence in the global aviation market.

China’s homegrown ARJ21 jetliner, converted for freight use, marked a significant milestone by completing its first commercial international flight from Yining in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region to Tashkent in Uzbekistan on Thursday. This event marks the first instance of the ARJ21 operating on international soil, a significant step in China’s aviation industry.

This adaptation is part of China’s broader strategy to enhance its domestic aviation capabilities and expand its presence in the international cargo market. The newly converted model boasts a maximum payload capacity of 10 tonnes and is designed to cover distances up to 2,778 kilometres, making it well-suited for short-haul international routes.

This flight represents a landmark achievement for the ARJ21, which has been in development for over a decade. The aircraft has undergone numerous modifications to transform it from a passenger carrier to a freighter, including structural reinforcements to handle heavier loads and the installation of a larger cargo door to facilitate loading and unloading. These changes have made the ARJ21 a competitive option in the regional freight market, which has seen increased demand due to the rapid growth of e-commerce and the need for timely delivery of goods.

The aircraft’s successful flight to Uzbekistan highlights the growing trade and transportation links between China and Central Asia, a region that plays a crucial role in China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This route is expected to facilitate more efficient and cost-effective transport of goods between the two countries, thereby boosting trade and economic cooperation.

The ARJ21’s successful transition from passenger service to cargo operations exemplifies China’s ability to innovate and adapt its aviation products to meet changing market needs.