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Jumbo-jet project gets engine liftoff

CHINA'S largest plane maker and the Shanghai government yesterday jointly inaugurated a new company that will produce engine parts for the nation's jumbo-jet project and said the partners are looking for other investors to provide additional capital.

The Aviation Industry Corp of China holds a 40 percent stake in the 6-billion-yuan (US$877 million) AVIC Commercial Aircraft Engine Co Ltd. The city's investment arm, Guosheng Group, and Shanghai Electric Group each have a 15 percent stake.

"We welcome domestic and overseas investors to purchase the remaining 30 percent share of the venture, including investment organizations and private companies," Tan Ruisong, the new company's vice chairman, said yesterday at the inauguration ceremony. "The venture is aimed at becoming the main engine supplier for domestically produced jumbo jets."

The company will also help Shanghai achieve its ambition to become the country's aviation base, officials said.

Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng and Mayor Han Zheng presided over yesterday's ceremony.

The firm's research and development center will be located at Zizhu Park in the city's Minhang District, and the assembly center will be at the Lingang Development Zone in Nanhui District in the southeast.

"It may take 15 years to go from R&D to the market," Tan said.

Nanhui government said last month that sample engine parts are expected to be finished as early as 2017.

Liu Daxiang, deputy chief of AVIC's Science and Technology Committee, said domestically produced jumbo jets will use overseas engines in test flights and then be equipped with locally made engines.

China has merged its two largest aircraft makers to form AVIC in an effort to become a world-class plane producer with a lineup of globally competitive products, including a 150-seat jumbo jet.

Last May, AVIC created the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China with Shanghai government to produce these large aircraft.

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

A jumbo aircraft is defined as a plane with more than 150 seats or a payload exceeding 100 tons.

Only the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Britain and Spain build jumbo jets at present.


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