GECAS Places Fleet Order for Chinese RJ

 - November 4, 2008, 9:49 AM

China Aviation Industry I (AVIC I) Commercial Aircraft Co. (ACAC) is to supply Irish-American aircraft lessor GE Commercial Aviation Services (GECAS) with up to 25 General Electric CF34-powered ARJ21-700ER regional jets starting in 2013 under a contract signed today at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai. The agreement, China’s biggest in both unit numbers and value, is worth some five billion Chinese yuan (about $730 million).

ACAC claims to hold “commitments” for a total of 206 of the twinjets, which can be configured to carry from 70 to 95 passengers. Originally scheduled to fly last March, the 1,390-nm ARJ21 is now expected to take off for the first time this month. Certification had been previously scheduled for next month, though this now seems very unlikely.

GECAS signed the contract with Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), a state-owned company in which AVIC I is a major shareholder, along with four other companies. Comac plans to develop larger airliners that could carry more than 150 passengers, misleadingly dubbed "jumbo" designs by Chinese officials.