ARJ21-900.jpgCanada's Bombardier Aerospace and China Aviation Industry Corporation are teaming up to develop regional aircraft, a market that is not sewn up by Airbus and Boeing, which is presumably why China finds it interesting.

The state-owned AVIC said it plans to invest $400m for R&D, construction of new facilities and equipment for Bombardier's proposed C Series aircraft program.

AVIC already supplies components for several Bombardier aircraft and will be a structural supplier for the Canadian company's C Series, development of which has been delayed several times and a decision to go ahead has still to be taken.

Meanwhile, Bombardier said it will invest $100m in the ARJ21-900 regional jet (pictured), which is a stretched 90- to 100-seat version of the ARJ21-700. The latter can hold 70 to 80 seats and is scheduled to start flying next year. So far, the only orders for the ARJ21 have come from Chinese airlines although AVIC aims to sell 200 ARJ21 planes outside of China in the next two decades, almost half its total target of 500.

The ARJ21 was designed for the diverse and demanding conditions in China, including supporting the hot and high altitude conditions in western China. The aircraft has a powerful take-off and climbing performance to allow the use of basic airports with short runways. Full details on the ARJ21 here.

China also recently announced its intention to build a large passenger jet to rival Boeing
and Airbus. China has long cherished the ambition to have a home-grown aircraft industry capable of breaking the western duopoly in large aircraft. As well as boosting national pride, such a programme could create a lot of work for Chinese industry — according to an estimate from Boeing, China needs 2,100-2,400 passenger planes in the next 20 years with a total value up to $197bn.

But this pronouncement has to be taken with a large dose of salt, EngagingChina feels.

While one can make a case for China getting into the regional jet game, it would take decades for China to close the technology gap with Boeing and Airbus in large aircraft, where the country is effectively starting from scratch. And without orders from foreign carriers, it is unlikely that the project would make economic sense — so far, foreign airlines have been reluctant to buy Made-in-China regional aircraft and they are likely to be even more cautious about being guinea pigs for China's large jet programme.

See this ChinaLawBlog post for more reasons why you won't be flying in a Made-in-China big jet any time soon.

Technorati : , , , , , , ,