A Chinese official said on Friday that home-developed jumbo
aircraft will be assembled in both Shanghai and Xi'an, capital of
northwest China's Shaanxi Province
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
"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
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
"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
"The involvement of foreign and domestic private aircraft
producers is essential to China's jumbo plane project," said
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.
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 Airbus.
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 US$150
(Xinhua News Agency April 7, 2007)