Nicholas Ionides/SINGAPORE

Wuhan Airlines has agreed a deal with Embraer to order 50-seat ERJ-145s in another important win for the Brazilian manufacturer in China.

Industry sources in China say Wuhan has agreed all the terms of the deal - thought to cover around five aircraft - with Embraer and deliveries could start within months.

Wuhan is awaiting government approval to firm up the order, but this is said to be imminent as Chinese regulatory authorities have been pushing airlines to add turboprops and regional jets.

Embraer's first sale in China was for five ERJ-145s to Sichuan Airlines last year and aircraft are already in service. The manufacturer is known to have also agreed a deal with China Southern Airlines covering up to 30 of the 50-seat type but, like the Wuhan deal, it is awaiting government approval.

Hubei province-based Wuhan operates six Boeing 737-300s and two 737-800s, in addition to six domestically made 52-seat Xian Aircraft Y-7-100 turboprops. It has been seeking to replace the Antonov An-24-based Y-7s since it lost one in a June 2000 crash.

Bombardier and Fairchild Dornier have also had sales successes in China since late 1999.

In April Embraer said the Brazilian government was urging China to approve tentatively agreed ERJ-145 deals with two Chinese carriers, although it declined to name them.

Source: Flight International