BEIJING, Sept 20 (AFP) - Chinese aircraft makers announced
Thursday they planned to make the country's first modern passenger
jet in an effort to grab a stake of the growing global market for
"We are going ahead with this project on our own because China
cannot indefinitely be buying this kind of aircraft from foreign
manufacturers," Li Jilan, marketing director of Aviation Industry of
China One (AVIC I) told AFP.
"The State Council has already approved initial investment of
2.5 billion yuan (301 million dollars) for the project," she said.
The project, called the ARJ21 project, follows the failure of
earlier efforts to build a joint-venture short-haul 100-seat
aircraft with the Airbus Consortium and then with a South Korea
consortium, she said.
It also comes after AVIC I's joint venture with
McDonald-Douglas, producing the 150-seat MD-90, was discontinued
after Boeing took over the United States aircraft maker last year.
The ARJ21 project, unveiled at the Aviation Expo/China 2001 in
Beijing, will mainly carry 70 passengers, while another version will
have an extended capacity of 99 seats. Engines, avionics and other
equipment would be procured globally, she said.
Roll-out of the plane is expected in 2005 and deliveries to the
domestic market are expected to begin the following year.
The regional demand for such planes is expected to be strong in
On Wednesday, Boeing released a report saying it expected the
market for new, primarily short-haul, commercial jets in China, Hong
Kong and Macau to be worth 144 billion dollars over the next two
Also, Chinese airplane manufacturers are exploring the
possibility of jointly building 50- and 200-seat planes to secure
part of the growing worldwide demand for such planes over the next
two decades, industry sources said.
Tracy Chen of Brazil's Embraer Aeronautics said the firm was in
talks with AVIC I and fellow Chinese conglomerate Aviation Industry
of China Two (AVIC II) to possibly set up an assembly line in
Embraer has already delivered five 50-seater aircraft to Chinese
airlines, with another 30 planes and an option for 10 more awaiting
final approval by the State Developmental Planning Agency, she
Talks are also being held with Russia's Tupolev Joint Public
Co., which signed an estimated 160 million dollar deal earlier this
month to supply Chinese airlines with five Tu-204, 200-seat
A contract for 10 more Tu-204s, equipped with either Rolls-Royce
or Russian-made engines was also pending, said Andrey Mesiats of
Russia's aviation exporter firm Aviaexport.
Negotiations had also begun for China to manufacture parts for
other Tupolev aircraft under license, he added.
"China has indicated that they would like to have this kind of
joint production of civilian aircraft, but first it is important to
establish the maintenance and service centers for Tupolev aircraft,"
"Joint production will not happen in the near future and is
going to need a lot of Chinese investment," he said.