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China to roll out new turboprop plane: report

The Modern Ark 600 (MA600).
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) June 25, 2008
China's new turboprop plane is expected to make its debut at the weekend with the aim of increasing Chinese world market share for propeller aircraft, state press said Wednesday.

The "Modern Ark 600" (MA600), comparable to Canada's Bombardier and the French ATR aircraft, will roll off the assembly line in the northern city of Xian on Sunday, the China Daily said.

"We hope to see that 40 percent of all turboprop aircraft delivered in the world in 2018 are from the MA series," said Chen Fusheng, a senior official with producer China Aviation Industry Corp I (AVIC I), was quoted as saying.

The first and only model of the MA series now on the market, the 50-60 seat MA60, has received 122 orders since 2005, mainly from African and Southeast Asian countries, the report said.

The new aircraft is lighter than the MA60 and thus consumes less fuel, the report said, adding that it is equipped with maritime survival functions for island countries.

It is scheduled to begin trials in September and will be delivered next year to its first customer, a civil aviation university in southwest China, the paper said.

The report did not say how many of the aircraft had been ordered.

AVIC I has already begun developing the more advanced MA700 as it seeks to break into more demanding markets in Europe and America, it added.

In the next 20 years, the world will need 1,900 turboprop planes, or around 35 percent of the demand for regional aircraft, according to joint research by Bombardier and the Aviation Industry Development Research Centre of China.

China also plans to build its own jumbo jets to compete with world giants Boeing and Airbus.

In March it launched a new aerospace firm charged with this task and has already started building a mid-range aircraft called the ARJ-21 with 70-90 seats.

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