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March 22, 2012

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Domestic jumbo jet trials set for new runways

THE fourth and fifth runways at Pudong International Airport are nearing completion, and will provide a testing ground for China's much-anticipated jumbo jet.

According to environmental evaluation reports, the new runways will be used to conduct test flights for the C919 jumbo jet and the ARJ21 regional jet next year and 2014.

Shanghai will then have seven runways at two airports, five at Pudong and two at Hongqiao International Airport.

The test flights are expected to take 2,300 hours in total, with around seven flights a day on average, said the report.

At the peak, the volume will reach 15 flights a day, said the authorities, but the effect on regular operations at the airport "is expected to be small."

The C919 is due to make its first flight in 2014 and enter service within two years of then, according to the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China. Officials estimate production will reach 150 jets annually by 2020.

The research said the new runways will have little effect on noise at the airport.

However, a cargo transport section to be built near the current third runway would see noise spread as far as 1,500 meters away and surpass limits, according to the reports. An area of 92 square kilometers is expected to be affected.

The investment for the fourth and fifth runways for the airport, operated by Shanghai International Airport Co Ltd, will amount to 2.7 billion yuan (US$427 million) and 6.7 billion yuan, respectively.

The new runways will enable the world's third busiest air hub by passenger volume to handle 60 million passengers a year by 2015.

The fourth runway will be 3,800 meters long, capable of serving the world's largest plane, the Airbus 380, the regulator said. The 3,400-meter fifth runway, located by the sea, will be used for test flights for the C919.

A new control tower and a new air traffic control building will be built along with the fifth runway.

The National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planning body, approved the plan in late November.


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