Aviation Industries of China I (AVIC I) is refining the design of its proposed ARJ21 regional jet, as it works towards a first flight target of 2006. An engine selection is due in October.

The rear-engined T-tail twinjet design has been increased in size so that the standard version will seat 79 passengers. The stretched model will seat 99, says project marketing executive Yao Wei. Earlier proposals by AVIC I, which is designing and building the aircraft at its Shanghai facilities, seated nine fewer passengers in each version.

Competing for the engine contract are General Electric, with its CF34; Pratt & Whitney Canada, offering its PW800; Rolls-Royce, pushing its BR710; and Snecma, which is developing a new regional turbofan based on its DEM21 core technology demonstrator. Yao pointedly describes Snecma's offering as "a very interesting engine".

Operator avionics preferences are expected to be discussed at a meeting in Hainan in the next few months to be attended by Chinese carriers, including Shandong Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and Sichuan Airlines.

Most avionics will be procured from foreign manufacturers, with Rockwell Collins and Thales among possible suppliers, says Yao. Introduction of the aircraft with Chinese airlines is expected by 2007.

Source: Flight International