British Airways parent International Airlines Group is planning to co-operate with Chinese airframer Comac on development of the C919 twinjet.
The co-operation will be the subject of a memorandum of understanding to be signed at the Farnborough air show.
IAG chief Willie Walsh tells Flightglobal that the agreement will centre on working with Comac, "as a number of airlines are doing", to assist with the development of the C919.
It also means that IAG - to which both BA and Iberia belong - will formally consider the type as an option in future fleet decisions.
Walsh states that the agreement "doesn't mean we'll order the aircraft" but stresses that it shows that IAG takes Comac seriously as a manufacturer, and will carefully examine the C919.
He points out that he has been in close contact, and held meetings, with Comac since November 2008 and that IAG understands the Chinese airframer has "impressed" the company with its aspirations and strategic direction. "We recognised that Comac has ambitions," says Walsh.