GE Commercial Aviation orders five China-made ARJ 21 regional jets

Shanghai: General Electric's aircraft leasing arm has signed a preliminary agreement to buy five ARJ 21 regional jets, developed locally by Chinese aerospace major AVIC I. This is the first order for the aircraft from a major foreign customer.

Under a memorandum of understanding signed on Friday, GE Commercial Aviation Services agreed to buy five ARJ 21-700 planes, with an option for 20 more, said officials at AVICI Commercial Aircraft, the commercial jet division of AVIC I.

AVIC I unveiled the locally designed and produced ARJ 21or the "Flying Phoenix," last December and commercial deliveries have been promised from the third quarter of 2009.

However, AVICI has now announced that the ARJ 21's test flight has been postponed until after September, from its original test date this spring. It blamed delays in parts supplies as the reason for the postponement. It said that it was making efforts to ensure that the delay did not affect its delivery target.

Parts suppliers for the ARJ 21 include General Electric and Parker Hannifin.