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China to build new engine facility for homemade jumbo jet
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An advanced engine development facility will be built in Sichuan province as the nation moves closer to building its own jumbo jet.

The base in Mianyang will provide advanced testing facilities and simulate the height and speed of an aircraft at high altitude, said Guo Xin, head of the gas turbine institute of the China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC).

"The engine is the heart of an airplane. China needs a first-class experimental base for developing homemade aero-engines," he told China News Agency.

Piao Ying, an aero-engine expert with Tsinghua University, said engines must undergo strict ground testing, including high altitude simulation, before they are installed in an airplane.

The country's current altitude simulation testing facility - the largest in Asia - is located at the gas turbine institute in Jiangyou, Sichuan province.

But plans to build large aircraft have placed tough demands on the facility, and the existing infrastructure is not of a high enough standard, an industry insider told China Daily.

In addition, some testing implements were damaged in the 8.0-magnitude earthquake in Sichuan province last year, said Ji Qinghua, a publicity officer with the institute.

The institute and the testing facility will move from Jiangyou to Mianyang, which is removed from the fault line, he said.

The project now awaits approval from the central government, he added.

The 150-seat jumbo jet, coded C919, is expected to make its maiden flight in 2014 and be delivered to customers in 2016

The capacity of the large commercial aircraft accounts for between 70-80 percent of current world demand.

Jin Zhuanglong, president of the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, said China would purchase foreign engines and seek suppliers through global bidding.

But the government is also determined to create its own technology and a company was established in Shanghai in January to focus specifically on engine development for the homemade jumbo.

Piao Ying said engine development technology is extremely difficult and only exists in Britain, France, the United States and Russia.

Even countries with the ability to manufacture aircraft may not be able to master the technologies of aero-engines, she said.

(China Daily May 15, 2009)

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