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Expert: China to have own jumbo aircraft by 2020
www.chinaview.cn 2007-03-12 10:03:58
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    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 top legislature.

    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 Liu.

    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.

Editor: Gao Ying
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