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China plane-makers take first steps to rival global giants

China leasing firm orders 20 A320s: Airbus executive
The leasing unit of the Bank of China, one of the nation's top lenders, has ordered 20 A320 aircraft from Airbus Industries, an executive with the European aircraft manufacturer said Tuesday. Singapore-based Bank of China Aviation ordered the planes on the sidelines of Airshow China in the nation's southern city of Zhuhai, Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy told reporters. "Bank of China Aviation has used the occasion of the Zhuhai air show to place an order with us for 20 A320 aircraft," he said. No further details were immediately available. Bank of China Aviation was known as Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise until 2007 when it was acquired by Bank of China, one of the nation's top four state-owned commercial lenders. The company's fleet mainly consists of Airbus A320s and Boeing 737s, but also includes other types such as the Airbus A330 and Boeing 777.
by Staff Writers
Zhuhai, China (AFP) Nov 4, 2008
China's fledgling aerospace industry took a major leap forward Tuesday at the nation's only international air show as it announced its first sale of commercial aircraft to a US company.

The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (CACC) confirmed the sale of five homemade jets to the aircraft leasing arm of General Electric with an option for the firm to buy 20 more, the two companies said in a statement.

The contract, signed on the sidelines of Airshow China in the southern city of Zhuhai, makes GE Commercial Aviation Services the first overseas leasing firm to buy a Chinese-made commercial plane, they said.

Delivery of the ARJ21s -- which stands for Advanced Regional Jet for the 21st Century -- will start in 2013, according to the statement.

The official Xinhua news agency said the contract for all 25 planes was worth 735 million dollars.

"The ARJ21 will help fulfill the growing need within China for fast, efficient regional air travel," said Norman Liu, executive vice president of GE Commercial Aviation Services, in the statement.

GE, which supplies the engines for the ARJ21, was planning to lease the planes to the China market, it said.

The ARJ21 has yet to make its maiden voyage, nor has it been approved by Chinese or American aviation regulators, reports have said.

The plane, which carries between 70 and 90 passengers, and other jets to be produced by CACC, are widely seen as part of a Chinese plan to eventually rival the dominance of aviation giants Airbus and Boeing.

"To fly Chinese large aircraft in the blue sky is not just the will of the government, but the whole nation," CACC's chief Jin Zhuanglong told an aviation conference in Zhuhai on Monday.

Moreover, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, a key backer of CACC, plans to acquire a foreign aircraft manufacturer, the state-run China Daily said Tuesday, citing Tan Weidong, president of one of the firm's subsidiaries.

Despite the lofty ambitions, China's government and CACC have been keen to stress that producing bigger planes to rival the global giants is a long-term goal that will take until at least 2020.

US-based Boeing and Airbus of Europe headed around 600 civil and military manufacturers, suppliers and designers who gathered in Zhuhai for the biennial Airshow China, which lasts until Sunday.

Airbus said Tuesday it had secured an order for 20 of its A320 aircraft from the aviation leasing arm of the Bank of China, one of the country's largest lenders.

"Bank of China Aviation has used the occasion of the Zhuhai air show to place an order with us for 20 A320 aircraft," Airbus chief operating officer John Leahy told reporters.

Delivery dates and costs were not given, but the deal could exceed one billion dollars based on the list price for the A320.

Bank of China Aviation was known as Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise until 2007 when it was acquired by Bank of China.

In addition to its commercial aviation ambitions, China's developing strength in military and space hardware was on display at the airshow, including a model of the Shenzhou-7 space module.

The original was part of China's September space mission, which saw astronauts make the country's first ever spacewalk.

Major manufacturers remain bullish about the long-term demand for new aircraft in China despite the global financial meltdown.

Leahy told reporters that the downturn in the aviation industry "might not be as bad as people are forecasting."

"We are not seeing a lot of order cancellations... And even if the traffic is down, aircraft sales may still be up," he said, adding that airlines will still need to replace old planes to save cash from rocketing fuel prices.

However, there are early signs China has not escaped the drop-off that has hit the global industry, with both analysts and airlines warning of a "cold winter" of slowing passenger demand following several years of double-digit growth.

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Aviation giants look to China amid global turbulence
Zhuhai, China (AFP) Nov 3, 2008
The giants of the aerospace industry will jet in to China's only international airshow starting Tuesday hoping the country's aviation sector can provide shelter from the global financial crisis.







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