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China-made MA60 commuter plane debuts in Angola
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A China-made regional commuter plane on Thursday made its debut at the international airport in the Angolan capital Luanda, attracting many Angolan and Chinese high-ranking officials from aircraft-related sectors.


The Modern Ark 60 (MA60) having a seating capacity between 48 and 60 is an ideal regional commuter plane, said Zhipeng Yuan, the Chinese pilot who operates the demonstration flight from Luanda- Lubango-Luanda.


"It (the plane) flies beautifully," he told Xinhua after operating the MA60 flying to and back from Lubango, the capital of Huila province in south Angola.


MA60 is a regional turboprop commuter plane developed and made by China. It is fitted up with state-of-the-art technology and equipment which can offer passengers comforts during their trips. With strong fuselage and landing gears as well as outstanding adaptability, it can take off and land on a short runway of 1,000 meters long.


At the ceremony of the demonstration flight held at the Luanda international airport, Sun Zhiwei, deputy managing director of China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corporation (CATIC), said he was very happy to see the fast economic development in Angola after the 27-year civil war ended in 2002, which, he added, offers Angola a great leap forward growth opportunity in the sector of air transportation.


Sun also said he believed that Luanda, the capital of Angola, has the greatest potential to become a new air transportation hub in southern African region which calls for an effective regional transit network throughout the country. "MA60 could be the most suitable type of aircraft meeting the requirement," he said.


Meanwhile, Jesus Nelson Martins, president of the Angolan Airlines (TAAG), expressed his satisfaction at the demonstration flight of MA60 at the ceremony.


"The demonstration flight is just the first step of Angola-China cooperation in civil aviation sector," he said, adding that the prospects for Angola and China in civilian aircraft cooperation are bright since all Angola's domestic flight routes range from several hundreds of kilometer up to 1,000 km.


According to Sun, MA60 sells well in developing countries, especially in Africa. Since it sold the first MA60 to Air Zimbabwe in April 2005, Sun said, CATIC has received 35 orders from overseas airlines in addition to 90-plus from domestic airlines.


(Xinhua News Agency January 25, 2008)


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