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September 9, 2009

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Another step closer to takeoff for domestic jumbo jet project

CHINA'S jumbo jet project is to decide engine, airframe and system suppliers by the end of this year, a step closer for the country's bid to build a 150-seat commercial plane to reduce reliance on overseas plane makers such as Boeing and Airbus.

Commercial Aircraft Corp of China, the plane maker, has sent requests to more than 100 domestic and overseas suppliers and signed understanding memorandums with nine domestic airframe suppliers, it said in a statement yesterday.

Pang Zhen, general manager of AVIC Shenyang Aircraft Industry Co Ltd, said the company is expected to construct 20 percent of the airframe.

A model of the jumbo jet, the C919, was exhibited for the first time at the Asian Aerospace International Expo in Hong Kong yesterday.

Chen Jin, the plane maker's sales director, said the C919 jet will have five advantages over Airbus and Boeing - new-generation engines and airframe materials, 12 percent to 15 percent less fuel consumption, 50 percent fewer carbon emissions and a 10 percent saving in costs.

The plane is due to make its maiden flight in 2014 and is expected to be delivered to customers by 2016.

However, it may be equipped with foreign-made engines for the maiden flight as the company still needs time to master some key technologies.

"The plane maker will determine engine suppliers by the end of this year and is already in talks with four companies," said Guo Bozhi, the maker's research director.

The jet is part of the country's aim to become a world-class aircraft producer with a lineup of globally competitive products. All facets of the process - from design to sourcing and production - will be done in China.


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