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August 27, 2009

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Engines for 1st homemade jumbo jet

AVIC Commercial Aircraft Engine Co is expected to produce the first engines to be used by the country's first homemade commercial jumbo jet in 2016.

"The jumbo jet will gain airworthiness certificate in 2016, and our development of the engines will keep pace with the jet," said Zhang Jian, general manager of the engine maker, in Shanghai yesterday.

Five jumbo jets will be tested and one of them will be set aside for the domestic engine maker, Zhang said.

"Our company is not the exclusive engine supplier for the jet, and as I know, two overseas engine makers - CFM International and Pratt & Whitney - have applied to offer engines," he said. "Jumbo jet buyers can choose different engines to meet their needs, and we can also target budget airlines and airlines in Africa."

The Aviation Industry Corp of China holds 40 percent in the engine maker, and Shanghai's investment arm, Guosheng Group, and Shanghai Electric Group own 15 percent each. The venture is still seeking investors to purchase the remaining 30 percent.

"Some overseas investors, domestic investment banks and private firms have showed interest in the stake," Zhang said.

The firm launched a worldwide recruitment which will end on September 10. It also plans to lay a foundation for its research and development center at Zizhu Park in Shanghai's Minhang District and its assembly center at the Lingang Development Zone in Nanhui District at the end of this year.

An initial design of the 150-seat jumbo jet has been finished, and the plane is scheduled 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, such as composite materials.


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