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Assembly center for jumbo jets in Shanghai

China's jumbo jet producer inaugurated an assembly center in Shanghai yesterday in another step toward achieving the country's ambition of producing a globally competitive jet.

The center is a wholly controlled subsidiary under the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China with registered capital of 2 billion yuan (US$293 million), which will mainly assemble the ARJ21 regional jet and the jumbo jet, codenamed C919.

The center is based at both the Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Factory on Dachang Road and an area near the city's Pudong International Airport.

"The construction of the Pudong base will kick off this year," said COMAC General Manager Jin Zhuanglong.

The jets will use runways at the Pudong airport for trial flights upon completion, the company said.

A research and development center and a customer service center for the jumbo jet project have already been launched in Shanghai.

China is to invest 200 billion yuan in developing its domestic jumbo jet, with 60 billion yuan to be spent in the next three to five years.

The jet is part of the country's aim to produce a lineup of globally competitive products.

All facets of the process - from design to sourcing and production - will be done in China, as the project aims to reduce the country's reliance on overseas firms such as Boeing and Airbus.

An initial design of the jet has been completed and the aircraft is due to make its maiden flight in 2014 and expected to be delivered to customers by 2016.

However, it may be equipped with foreign-made engines for the maiden flight as the country still needs time to make breakthroughs in some key technologies, including engines and composite materials.

A jumbo jet is defined as a plane with more than 150 seats or a payload over 100 tons. Only the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Britain and Spain currently manufacture the big planes.


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