China RJs Win First Overseas Buyer
The first regional jet built in China, the ARJ21, won its first overseas customer this week. General Electric's aircraft leasing division signed up to buy five of the airplanes, with options for 20 more, at the Zhuhai air show on Tuesday. GE, which is the world's largest builder of aircraft engines, provides the CF34 engines that power the Chinese jets. Dan Whitney, a GE spokesman, said the purchase "demonstrates our ability and commitment to continue to invest in emerging markets where we see solid growth potential." Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), based in Shanghai, has now taken orders for 206 of the regional jets, which sell for about $30 million each. The ARJ21, which seats 70 to 90 passengers, is on track to begin flight tests later this year.
COMAC is developing the aircraft for both Chinese and export markets. There are currently 50 new airports scheduled for construction within China over the next five years, and traffic in the country is expected to grow 12 percent annually over the next 20 years. Aircraft deliveries to GE will begin in 2013.