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AVIC II, Antonov to design aircraft
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Shaanxi Aircraft Industry (Group) Co and Ukraine-based Antonov agreed yesterday to design a freighter version of China-developed large aircraft, a senior company official said yesterday.

Shaanxi Aircraft, a subsidiary of China Aviation Industry Corporation II (AVIC II), and Antonov signed a framework agreement yesterday to set up a center in Beijing for the purpose by the end of this year.

"Part of the center's onus will be to design the freighter version of China's own large plane, which was listed as a priority project in the 11th Five-Year Plan (2006-10)," AVIC II Vice-President Liang Zhenhe said.

Shaanxi Aircraft will hold the controlling share in the joint venture, with the initial investment being about 10 million yuan ($1.29 million), said Ouyang Shaoxiu, vice-president of the company based in Northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

The center will need about 50 aircraft designers and engineers, with about half of the team coming from Shaanxi Aircraft's headquarters in Hanzhong, a city south of the capital Xi'an.

China plans to make large aircraft by 2020. Designing the aircraft will start during the 11th Five-Year Plan. Usually, large aircraft have a payload capacity of at least 100 tons, or about 200 seats for the passenger version.

The engineering center will also design light- and medium-sized transport aircraft and improve the existing Y-8, or Yun-8, turboprop transport plane, Liang said.

Shaanxi Aircraft specializes in designing and manufacturing transport aircraft both for military and civilian purposes. It has made more than 100 Y-8 aircraft in the past 40 years.

Antonov Aeronautical Scientific-Technical Complex (Antonov) is an aircraft manufacturing and services company specializing in transport planes and has made more than 20,000 of them, which are used in more than 40 countries.

Antonov started cooperation with China 50 years ago, giving a license to China to make its AN-2 single-engine biplanes, which are called Y-5 in China.

"The establishment of the engineering center is a strategic step for AVIC II toward expediting the development of civilian aircraft," said Liang. AVIC II agreed to the joint venture because of the air cargo industry's huge potential.

AVIC II has set up an aircraft engineering center with Airbus and AVIC I. Seventy percent of the joint venture, which will design up to 5 percent of the A350 airframe, is held by Airbus, with AVIC II and AVIC I holding 25 percent and 5 percent.

AVIC I and AVIC II both are State-owned aviation giants. AVIC II is the only entity making military and commercial helicopters in China.

(China Daily September 20, 2007)

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