Jumbo aircraft company gets March deadline for take-off

Updated: 2008-01-07 20:00

BEIJING -- China has set a March deadline to establish its first jumbo passenger aircraft company, as it moves to positions itself among countries technically capable of manufacturing large jets.

Huang Qiang, secretary general of the Commission of Science Technology and Industry for National Defense (CSTIND), told Xinhua on Monday a director and a chief engineer of research would be appointed by then to make sure "the work goes as planned".

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Previously, Shanghai Securities News reported the start-up would only be responsible for the design and assembly of jumbo aircraft, while the production of components and parts would be left to other aviation enterprises.

It was the latest development of the research project approved in principle by China's Cabinet, the State Council, last February. This was to make the country capable of building aircraft with a take-off weight of more than 100 tons, or planes with more than 150 seats.

Currently, only the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Britain and Spain have the capability to build jumbo aircraft, with Boeing and Airbus taking a lion's share of sales in the international market.

Just before the New Year holiday, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the Avic I Xi'an Aircraft Industry (Group) Company to give a pep talk on the manufacturing of jumbo jets. Last year, the company made China the fourth country to develop its own advanced fighter aircraft -- the "Jian 10".

During his talks with technicians, Wen emphasized a China-made jumbo aircraft as a "significant strategy" of the country. This would lift the country's competence in the global market as a slew of technical breakthroughs, especially in engine, materials and electronic equipment, were to be made.

The maiden flight of the ARJII1, China's first 90-seat regional jet, widely viewed as a step closer to jumbo jets, was scheduled for this year.

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