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Aviation to fly high in Shanghai

By WANG YING in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2021-07-23 09:01

A C919 aircraft parks at the hangar of Commercial Aircraft Corp of China in Shanghai. [Photo/Xinhua]

Research and development of longer versions and variants of the narrow-body C919 aircraft model as well as the wide-body CR929 model would be prioritized during the next five years, the municipal government of Shanghai said on Wednesday.

In a guideline, Shanghai outlined the further development of strategic emerging industries as well as leading industries during the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25).

Shanghai will accelerate the consistent innovation of its civil aviation industry chain and raise the output value of its civil aviation and aerospace industry to 80 billion yuan ($12.36 billion) by 2025.

By 2025, the guideline said, an aviation and aerospace industrial cluster will take shape in Shanghai; large passenger aircraft's commercialization will have made rapid progress; key technological breakthroughs will be made in jet engines and avionic systems; and a complete aviation industry system will be established, covering major manufacturers, suppliers, core complementary enterprises and specialized services.

Qi Qi, an associate professor at Guangzhou Civil Aviation College, said the plan's focus on the development of large passenger aircraft, regional jets, wide-body aircraft, aircraft engines and aviation facilities is practical.

"Based on Shanghai's existing achievements in aviation, we can expect the guideline to bring the local civil aviation industry to a higher level," said Qi.

Particularly, the commercialization and industrialization of the single-aisle C919 and the accelerated production of the ARJ21-the advanced regional jet for the 21st century-are highly expected.

Mass production of the ARJ21 has already started, and the C919 is on track to receive airworthiness certification, Qi said.

Earlier this year, ThePaper.cn quoted Yang Zhigang, chief technology officer for R&D at Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (COMAC), as saying that the first aircraft of the C919 model, China's first homegrown narrow-body passenger plane, is scheduled for delivery to a customer within the year.

The twin-engine, single-aisle C919, which is comparable to the updated Airbus 320 and Boeing's new generation 737 planes, has had its maiden flight on May 5,2017. Its manufacturer COMAC said on its website it has so far received 815 orders from 28 Chinese and overseas companies.

COMAC also develops and makes the ARJ21, which has received its airworthiness certificate from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) in 2017, and completed up to 2.8 million passenger trips in the past five years, according to China Aviation News.

Efforts would also be made to explore longer models and variants of the C919 series, while the development of the ARJ21 series would focus on applications like business trips and cargo transportation, said the plan.

R&D of the wide-body CR929 would encompass the technology platform for aircraft engines, it said.

Co-developed by China and Russia, the CR929 would be able to fly 12,000 kilometers with 280 passengers onboard, according to COMAC.

Different from the C919, which incorporates a global aviation supply chain in its development, the CR929 would be more dependent on local industry chains of China and Russia, Qi said.

As Qi put it, functional autonomy would be two-sided. On one hand, there would be more challenges throughout the research and development process; on the other, the process would also promote the Chinese aviation industry's growth and improvement, like developing the turbofan engine to power aircraft.

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