General Electric (GE) will buy five Chinese regional jets, with an option to purchase 20 more, in a deal that could be worth up to US$750 million, the Wall Street Journal reported. This marks the first overseas order for China’s major aircraft manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, and a milestone in the country’s long-term ambitions to become a rival to Boeing and Airbus. A GE representative told the paper that the deal for five 70-seat ARJ21-700 regional jets was struck at the Zhuhai air show and is currently being finalized. GE plans to lease the aircraft to China’s domestic carriers for use within China. GE supplies engines for the ARJ21 line of jets. China’s next challenge is to finalize deals with overseas customers that are not involved in the jet’s production. Beijing this year announced plans to produce a 150-seat jetliner that would compete directly with Boeing and Airbus by 2020.
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