Bombardier is to invest $100 million into China Aviation Industry Corp I's (AVIC I) ARJ21-900 project and provide technical assistance in developing the aircraft. The two companies also firmed up plans to co-operate in the 90- to 149-seat civil aircraft market, including the Bombardier CSeries.

This follows a deal signed last year at the Farnborough air show that gave AVIC I subsidiary Shenyang Aircraft work on the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 and a potential role in the proposed CSeries.

Bombardier Aerospace president and chief operating officer Pierre Beaudoin says both companies will jointly design a new fuselage and interior amenities for the ARJ21-900. He, however, adds that he does not see any competition between the two aircraft because the ARJ21-900 will be aimed at regional operators and the CSeries mainline operators seeking more range and a five-abreast configuration.

The Canadian company will also help AVIC I market the ARJ21-900 outside China, and Beaudoin says: "We think we can make it very competitive in the West."

The ARJ21-900 was originally going to be a simple stretch of AVIC I's ARJ21-700, but both companies are now looking at more radical changes to make the aircraft more enticing to Western carriers. "We're expanding our thinking with the -900," says Bombardier president of new commercial aircraft programmes Gary Scott. "It may have more changes than initially contemplated."

As part of the deal, AVIC I has agreed to invest in facilities and equipment for the CSeries programme, should it be launched. It is too early to say which components of the CSeries AVIC I may manufacture, but Beaudoin has not ruled out assembling the aircraft in China. "It's not in our plans to have an assembly line in China, but it's something we'll consider as the market expands," he says.

Source: Flight International