China Aviation Industry Corp I (AVIC I) has sealed launch orders from three customers for 35ARJ21 regional jets and is studyingthe development of larger commercial aircraft.

Shangdong Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and Shenzhen Financial Leasing all signed commitments last week at Aviation Expo China 2003 to acquire ARJ21s.

Shandong Airlines will be the first operator of the new 78 to 85-seat regional jet when it takes delivery of the first of 10 ARJ21s in 2007. Shanghai Airlines plans to take five ARJ21s from 2008, while Shenzhen Financial Leasing has ordered 20 with deliveries starting in 2009.

AVIC I president Liu Giaozhuo says the deals mark the completion of the "launch customer selection" process, which began at the beginning of 2003 with the goal of lining up 35 launch orders by year-end, and shows the aircraft will be commercially viable.

Source: Flight International