April 6 (Xinhua) -- A Chinese official said here on Friday that home-developed
jumbo aircraft will be assembled in both Shanghai and Xi'an, capital of
northwest China's Shaanxi Province.
An ideal image of China's home-developed
Though the project is still in the initial planning
phase, Xi'an is expected to shoulder about 50 percent of the manufacturing
workload for jumbo airliners and 60 percent for airfreighters, said Jin
Qiansheng, deputy director of the administrative committee of Xi'an Yanliang
State Aviation High-tech Industry Base.
The Commission of Science, Technology and Industry
for National Defense disclosed that Shanghai will be the assembly base when it
announced last week that the country would launch jumbo aircraft manufacturing.
"Yanliang will also play a key role in developing the
country's own jumbo aircraft. It is the only national aviation industry base,
and it has China's strongest aviation research and development team," Jin said
at an ongoing investment and trade forum in Xi'an.
According to Jin, Yanliang is also responsible for
producing the wings and fuselage of China's innovative new regional jet, the
A jumbo aircraft is an airfreighter with a take-off
weight of more than 100 tons or an airliner with more than 150 seats.
However, China will need at least another 10 years
before it could make the first jumbo, according to Jin.
Only the United States, Russia, France, Germany,
Britain and Spain currently have the ability to build jumbo aircraft, with
Boeing and Airbus taking the lion's share of the international market.
"China's jumbo aircraft will initially target the
domestic market. But the ultimate aim is to compete with Boeing and Airbus on
the international market." Jin said.
Jin did not rule out international cooperation in the
project, saying a jumbo plane like a Boeing 747 has about a million parts and
manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus have thousands of parts suppliers.
"The involvement of foreign and domestic private
aircraft producers is essential to China's jumbo plane project," said Jin.
Yanliang is now seeking cooperation with private
helicopter manufacturing companies in eastern Zhejiang Province as well as
aircraft manufacturers in Brazil, said Jin.
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 a decades-long suspension, the central government last year revived the blueprint in the 11th five-year plan (2006-2010) in order to meet the country's growing demand for air travel.
A full scale model of the first Chinese developed commercial jet, the ARJ-21, is seen at Shanghai's Aircraft Manufacturing factory March 30, 2007. (Xinhua Photo)
To prepare for the jumbo plane project, China began
building its own regional jet, the ARJ-21 -- meaning "advanced regional jet for
the 21st century" -- in 2002.
Final assembly of the domestically-developed regional
jet began on March 30 in Shanghai with the first 90-seater plane expected to
roll out of the workshop at the end of the year.
The ARJ-21's maiden flight is scheduled for March
2008 and mass production of the aircraft will begin in 2009, according to China
Aviation Industry Corporation I (AVIC I), developer of the jet.
Chinese experts said the ARJ-21 has given China a
late but powerful presence in its own commercial aviation market, which up until
now has been dominated by foreign aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and
The ARJ-21 project has also helped Chinese experts
and technicians improve management and marketing skills for large aircraft
development, said the experts.
China is on track to become the world's second
largest civil aviation market by 2030 -- after the United States -- with air
travel soaring by more than 95 percent in the past five years.
Huge market demand means that China will need 1,600 new airliners by 2020, representing expenditure of at least 150 billion U.S. dollars.