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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China to Order 5 Rolls-Powered Tupolevs

LONDON — China has agreed to buy five Tupolev 204s from Russia's Aviastar, industry magazine Flight International reported Monday.

Flight said the acquisition of five Tu-204s from Aviastar had progressed as far as a letter of intent, a nonbinding agreement that usually precedes contracts to buy civil aircraft.

The Tu-204's engines would be supplied by Britain's Rolls-Royce PLC, the weekly said. The aircraft is also available with engines from a Russian manufacturer, but Aviastar has offered it with reliable and efficient Rolls turbofans in the hope of making it more attractive to customers outside of the Commonwealth of Independent States.

Adoption of the Rolls-powered Tu-204 by China could be a minor breakthrough for the British company, since initial orders can lead to much larger sales of the same equipment.

At the same time, China is close to ordering up to 40 narrow-body 737 aircraft from U.S. Boeing Co., the magazine reported, citing industry sources.

China, which buys civil aircraft centrally on the request of its airlines, was also expected to order up to about 40 A320s from Airbus SAS, Flight said.

Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Hainan Airlines and Shanghai Airlines had requested the 737s, Flight reported,

Boeing chief executive Phil Condit said in July he was "cautiously optimistic" that China would order 30 to 40 of his planes this year.

Forty 737s would be worth more than $2 billion, by catalog prices.