BEIJING, March 12 (Xinhua) -- China's dream to have
self-developed jumbo aircraft is expected to come true by 2020 if everything
goes well, said an expert on Monday.
"We are now fairly well conditioned for making large aircraft with the sound support from growing national economic strength, technological development and experience in
manufacturing," said Liu Daxiang, deputy head of the Department of Science and
Technology Development under China Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I).
The preparation work has been going well, said Liu, a
deputy to the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's
The ongoing project of regional jet ARJ-21, which was
launched in 2005, has helped Chinese experts and technicians prepare themselves
in technology and management, marketing experience for large aircraft
development, said Liu, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.
The regional jet, for which China boasts own
intellectual property right, has been undergoing test flights and is expected to
come into service in 2008.
In addition, some domestic aircraft producers, which
are part suppliers for U.S. producer Boeing and Europe's Airbus, are also
capable of contributing to the development of the large aircraft, Liu said.
However, Liu did not rule out international
cooperation in the project, saying some aircraft parts, including the key part
engine, may be provided by other countries, though China will be its sole
intellectual property right holder.
"It's a common practice for a large aircraft
producer, like Boeing and Airbus, to purchase parts from other countries," said
The expert said the government should work out
regulations on the development of large civil aircraft "as soon as possible" to
ensure the project progresses smoothly.
"A home-made large aircraft may inspire the nation
like the country's manned spacecraft program," said Liu. "The project will also
speed technology advance in China's aviation industry and promote the
development of secondary sectors."
China started to build jumbo aircraft in 1970, only
two years after Airbus went into production, but the project was later shelved
despite a promising start.
After decades' suspension, the central government
revived the blueprint in the 11th five-year plan (2006-2010) in an aim to meet
the country's growing demand for air travel, which was approved by national
lawmakers at the NPC full session last year.
The jumbo aircraft generally refers to an air
freighter with a flying-off weight of more than 100 tons or an airliner with
more than 150 seats.
So far, only the United States, Russia, France,
Germany, Britain and Spain can build jumbo aircraft, with Boeing and Airbus
taking the lion's share of the International market, according to Liu.
China is estimated to become the second largest civil
aviation market after the U.S. by 2030 with air travel soaring by more than 95
percent in the past five years.
With such huge market demand, it is predicted that
China needs 1,600 new airliners by 2020, which will be worth at least 150
billion U.S. dollars, said Liu.