China Aviation Industry I (AVIC I) and General Electric have signed an agreement paving the way for engines powering the country's ARJ21 regional jet to be assembled in China rather than shipped in from the USA.

ACAC and GE have signed an agreement that will see the assembly and testing of CF34-10A engines take place at one of AVIC I's engine factories in the north-eastern Chinese city of Shenyang, confirms AVIC I Commercial Aircraft (ACAC) assistant to the president Tao Zhihui.

But Tao adds the deal is still subject to regulatory approval and is unable to name the factory. However, AVIC I has an aircraft engine factory in Shenyang called Shenyang Liming Aero Engine.

In July, GE Aviation general manager small commercial engines Chuck Nugent said GE was looking to have the CF34-10A engines assembled in China, but to begin with the engines would all be assembled at GE's plant in Durham, North Carolina.

The CF34-10A powers the 90-seat ARJ21-700 and GE is due to deliver its first two engines to ACAC towards the end of the year just prior to the ARJ21's roll-out, which Tao says is set for 20 December.

Meanwhile, the larger, 105-seat ARJ21-900 which ACAC plans to design in collaboration with Bombardier will have a longer range than the earlier model in part because the -900 will be targeted at the US market, says the manufacturer.

ACAC vice-president Chen Jin says: "The -900 will serve international markets [and] I don't think the -700 can serve the US market."

Chen says the -700's range is sufficient to cover "98% of China" from any domestic point but the aircraft's range is insufficient for the US domestic market.

He says the -700 is primarily for domestic use in China and for export to neighbouring countries. The -900 is for export markets such as the USA so will have more range and will be a mainstream product in the regional aviation market, he adds.