China's Regional Jet
China is entering the burgeoning regional jet market with a 78- to 85-passenger plane and a 98- to 105-seat version that will be 10 percent cheaper than other regional jets, more comfortable and "designed to fly under terrible geographic conditions like high temperatures or plateaus in China's western regions," said Chen Jin, vice general manager of AVIC Commercial Aircraft Co. Ltd. Work started simultaneously at four different locations on the first ARJ21 aircraft last week and the test aircraft should be ready by 2006. First deliveries are expected in 2008. GE is supplying the engines and Rockwell Collins the avionics. The Chinese government put up half the $5 billion yuan in development costs and the company is looking for more investment, something changes in the Chinese attitude toward such things might help out. While the machinery spooled up at AVIC's factories, the Chinese government was announcing future changes that would encourage more private investment in such ventures. The General Administration of Civil Aviation of China will speed up reforms to the regulation of domestic capital in the aviation industry, said Yang Yuanyuan, the organization's director general. It will also be easier for domestic airlines to expand routes and a system will be set up to "review the qualifications of international operators."