China's plan to design and build airplanes that can carry more than 150 passengers, and compete with Airbus and Boeing, has been given the official green light from the State Council, China's cabinet, said sources close to the project on Sunday.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao presided over a State Council Executive Committee meeting on Feb. 26 to hear the feasibility report of a team of specialists on the new plane program.
The committee approved in principle the plan to develop the new aircraft which is set to begin as soon as possible.
Developing its own large aircraft is a priority of China's longer-term scientific and technological development strategy.
The executive committee said the program to develop large passenger jets is a major strategic decision of the central government and a long-cherished aspiration of the Chinese people.
According to the meeting, after more than five decades of development, China's aviation industry is ready to develop larger planes. The program will enhance China's overall international competitiveness and help transform the nation's economic growth pattern.
The meeting pointed out that building larger planes is a complicated project and that people who undertake the program should be fully aware of the difficulties and risks. The program should carry out the "glorious, historical mission with relentless determination, a strong will and with unremitting efforts," according to the executive committee.
The meeting required that the program achieve high standards for reliability, security and cost-effectiveness to sharpen the new aircraft's competitive edge on international markets.
While mainly relying on China's own resources and efforts, international cooperation will be also actively sought, according to the meeting.
China has already built its own regional jet. The ARJ, which will carry 78 to 105 passengers, is scheduled to have its maiden flight in March 2008. Seventy orders for the ARJ have already been placed.