An undisclosed Chinese customer has placed a firm order this year for three Airbus corporate jetliners (ACJs), marking the first sale of a large modern business-jet in this important and fast-growing market.

Deliveries of all three Airbus ACJs will start in 2006, and each will be powered by CFM International CFM56-5B7/P engines.

Two of the Airbus ACJs will then be equipped with "Prestige" cabin-layouts. Hand over of these two aircraft, which will be equipped by Associated Air Centre of Dallas, Texas, will follow later in 2006. Outfitting of the third aircraft has yet to be decided.

Airbus' ACJ Family has the widest, tallest and most voluminous cabin of any business jet, providing the best possible space in which to travel - as well as attractive domed ceilings. It offers twice the cabin-width and three times the volume of traditional top-of-the-line business jets, for about the same price.

The Airbus ACJ Family features by far the most modern design of any top-of-the-line business jet. It comes with many standard features - such as fuel-saving wingtip-fences, fly-by-wire controls and category 3B autoland capability - which either cost more or are unavailable on other aircraft.

And like the Airbus A319, from which it is derived, the Airbus ACJ Family benefits from unmatched cockpit commonality with all other Airbus passenger aircraft being produced today. The Airbus ACJ Family’s heritage also means that it enjoys high reliability , plus cost-saving centralised maintenance and extended check-intervals.

Up to six additional centre tanks (ACTs) in the cargo-hold of Airbus ACJ aircraft provide intercontinental range. Outward-opening cargo doors allow rapid loading and removal of these tanks to suit the needs of each mission.

More than 50 Airbus ACJ Family aircraft have been ordered by customers in Asia, Europe, North America, South America and the Middle East. They are in service with companies as corporate shuttles and executive aircraft, with governments as VIP transports, and with individuals for private use.

Airbus ACJ deliveries this year will total nine aircraft, of which seven are already delivered. Four completion centres - Associated Air Center in Texas, Jet Aviation in Basle, Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg and EADS Sogerma in Toulouse - are involved in the cabin outfitting of this growing programme.

Total sales of the Airbus A320 Family stand at more than 3,700 with almost 200 customers and operators.

Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.