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3 aviation zones not flight of fancy

(Shanghai Daily)

16:17, January 22, 2013

CHINA will build three pilot civil aviation industrial zones to support the development of domestically-made passenger aircraft, the State Council, the country's Cabinet, said yesterday.

The government will also select surrounding areas of the Yangtze and Pearl River deltas as well as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region to help develop the civil aviation economy, the Cabinet said in a guideline on the civil aviation industry.

Aircraft makers in the pilot zones should cooperate with scientific research institutes to focus on domestic production of planes, engines and other equipment, the guideline said.

The government will also build the airports in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou into international aviation hubs, while supporting the development of airports in Kunming in Yunnan Province and Urumqi in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, according to the guideline.

China has invested more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) to produce aircraft domestically, which includes the C919 jumbo passenger jet and the ARJ-21 regional airplane developed by the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China.

All facets of the C919 production process - from design to sourcing and production - will be done in China in a bid to reduce reliance on overseas firms such as Boeing and Airbus. Three domestic companies are responsible for the assembly as well as design of engines and electrical systems for the C919 and the ARJ-21.

But the engines used to power the first batch of C919 jets will be made by CFM International, a joint venture between US-based General Electric and France's Safran SA.

The guideline also said China's low altitude airspace will be opened to allow an increasing number of planes for general aviation.

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