China has set a timetable for its large aircraft plan, and the first homemade jumbo jet will take to the skies by no later than the start of the 13th Five-Year Plan Period (2015-2020), a senior official said on Monday.
This is the first time a timetable for the trunk liner project has been made public, since the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd was set up in May. The company is in charge of the large plane's assembly, marketing and after-sales service with an initial investment of 19 billion yuan (US$2.8 billion).
Miao Wei, vice minister of industry and information technology, said at the China International Aviation & Aerospace Forum 2008 on Monday that China-made jumbo jets will be on the market between 2015 and 2020.
"We will finish the concept design and research on key technologies before 2010, and have the first plane roll off the production line before 2014," he said.
Even though the domestic passenger transport volume has been dropping recently amid the global economic slowdown, Miao said he had confidence in China's vast demand for new planes.
"In the next 10 years, China will need at least 1,000 new planes," he said.
The corporation is currently studying a feasibility plan for the large plane, Jin Zhuanglong, its general manager said on Monday.
Some sub-projects have begun, and the large airplane's technology scheme and suppliers will be decided soon, he said.
The corporation, which is also responsible for marketing the homemade regional jet ARJ21, will sign its first overseas order, worth about $750 million, with General Electric Co, at the seventh China International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, which opens today.
GE's leasing unit will sign a contract for 25 ARJ21-700s, which raises the company's backlog to 208, Chen Jin, general manager for marketing and sales, said.
Miao said the ARJ21-700 will enter service next year, while work on a 100-seat version, a business-jet model and a freighter will start next year.
China has also received 136 orders for the MA 60, a propeller-driven commuter plane, Miao said.
Xi'an Aircraft Industry Group Co, the maker of the plane, has already delivered 34, he said.
"The next few years will be an important period for China's aviation industry," he said.
The ministry will draft a mid-and-long-term plan for the aviation industry soon in order to coordinate the development of large planes, regional jets and helicopters, he said.
(China Daily November 4, 2008)