Boeing is set to join China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) I's ARJ21 regional jet programme as a consultant under the terms of a contract due to be signed at the Zhuhai air show in November. The US manufacturer will provide engineering support to AVIC I Commercial Aircraft Company (ACAC), set up to lead the development effort. The agreement could lead to the proposed 79-99-seat ARJ21 family sharing commonality with Boeing's Next Generation 737, say Chinese industry sources.

Although the deal is still being finalised, the sources say AVIC I is "hopeful" an agreement can be signed on the opening trade day of Airshow China 2002 on 4 November. Boeing is already assisting Sukhoi and Ilyushin on the Russian Regional Jet project, envisaged as a three-model 60-95 seat family.

Meanwhile, AVIC I is expected to announce at Zhuhai its selection of Ukrainian design bureau Antonov to design and produce the ARJ21's fuselage. The engine choice is also due to be narrowed to two from the General Electric CF34-10A, Pratt & Whitney Canada PW800, Rolls-Royce BR710 and Snecma SM146.

Source: Flight International