China‘s fledging aerospace industry took a major leap forward Tuesday at the nation’s only international air show as it announced its first sale of commercial aircraft to a US company.
The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (CACC) confirmed the sale of five homemade jets to the aircraft leasing arm of General Electric with an option for the firm to buy 20 more, the two companies said in a statement.
by Guy Newey, AFP
A photographer takes pictures of trade stands in front of a fighter jet poster on display at the China Airshow 2008 in Zhuhai. China’s only international airshow opened on Tuesday as the host nation looked to take another step on its ambitious journey to rival the global players of the aerospace industry.(AFP/Mike Clarke)
The contract, signed on the sidelines of Airshow China in the southern city of Zhuhai, makes GE Commercial Aviation Services the first overseas leasing firm to buy a Chinese-made commercial plane, they said.
Delivery of the ARJ21s — which stands for Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century — will start in 2013, according to the statement, which was unable to confirm reports that the contract would be worth 735 million dollars.
“The ARJ21 will help fulfill the growing need within China for fast, efficient regional air travel,” said Norman Liu, executive vice president of GE Commercial Aviation Services , in the statement.
The ARJ21, which carries between 70 and 90 passengers, and other jets to be produced by CACC, are widely seen as part of a Chinese plan to eventually rival the dominance of aviation giants Airbus and Boeing.
“To fly Chinese large aircraft in the blue sky is not just the will of the government, but the whole nation,” CACC’s chief Jin Zhuanglong told an aviation conference in Zhuhai on Monday.