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Jet Airliner Certification Lengths Throughout History

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With Bombardier expecting to deliver the first C Series in the near future, it will end a long road for the manufacturer in getting its newest aircraft into the hands of an operator and begin proving itself in revenue service. With the 787's well-publicized delays still lingering on the mind, I decided to compare all commercial jet airliners from the time of their first flight to first delivery.

The chart below shows that this number can vary widely, from an amazing 205 days for the DC-9 to 2,554 days for the ARJ21. Reasons for this can be attributed to many factors ranging from the experience of the manufacturer to the complexity of the aircraft itself. However, not since the 777 in the mid-1990s have we seen a new aircraft type flown and delivered within a year.

Even though comparing an aircraft from the dawn of the jet age to modern aircraft may seem unfair, especially considering certification rules have no doubt changed in the past 60+ years, the chart below shows that certifying and delivering a jet airliner even by modern and experienced manufacturers is challenging to say the least.

Ironically, the DC-9 and ARJ21, both on extreme ends of the chart, are also arguably the two most similar aircraft.

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