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China's aviation power gears up to takes off

China's homegrown trransport aircraft Y-20.

(Hu Tao, Xinhua)In the past year, three China-developed large aircraft have debuted on the world stage: the Y20 heavy air freighter; the C919, Chinas first homemade large passenger aircraft; and the massive amphibious AG600.

They are part of Chinas aim of becoming a global aviation power.

“The aviation industry is the crown in the manufacturing sector. Large aircraft show the exclusive capacity of a great power,” said Geng Ruguang, deputy manager of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the country's largest state-owned aircraft producer.

“These latest aircraft models are the harvest of years of constant efforts. They represent the general upgrading of national and scientific strength.”

The unprecedented effort in innovation includes the aim of having China-made aircraft with China-made engines. On Aug. 28, the state-owned Aero Engine Corporation of China (AECC) was established in Beijing with the goal of becoming a world-class aircraft engine company with Chinese innovation.

China's home-made "TAIHANG" aviation engine. by AEEC

The aviation engine has long been an obstacle for China’s aviation industry. The new firm is a strategic move to enhance national strength as well as the capacity of the armed forces.

“Based on independent innovation, the AECC will strive toward creating a strong ‘China heart’ for our aircraft,”said AECC president Cao Jianguo.

The corporation will focus on building a complete industry chain including design, manufacturing, testing and key materials research.

“It will adhere to independent research and development,” Cao stressed.

The AECC received investment from the State Council, the Beijing Municipal Government, AVIC and the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, with registered capital of 50 billion yuan (around 7.5 billion U.S. dollars).

Aircraft engines are sophisticated products to manufacture, and any breakthroughs in this area will greatly improve China's economic and military power. Aviation development is included in at least 100 key projects over the next 15 years to increase China's technological capabilities and improve living standards, as outlined in the governments 13th Five-Year Plan unveiled earlier this year.

C919 rolled off the production line on Nov.2, 2015 in Shanghai. Xinhua photo

AG600 rolled off the production line on July 23, 2016. Xinhua photo

China’s large aircraft family now boasts key members with specialties to meet its national requirements and demands.

The C919, unveiled by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, will be muscling into a civil aviation market dominated by Airbus and Boeing. With its maiden flight set for next year and at least another three years of test flights, it will be some time before the single-aisle jet is in commercial service.

On July 6, two Y-20 aircraft, China's largest homegrown transport aircraft, officially joined the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force. They represent Chinas new capacity for long-range transportation and its entry to the international “large aircraft club”.

On July 23, China completed production of the AG600, the world’s largest amphibian aircraft under development. About the size of a Boeing 737, the AG600 is designed to fight forest fires and perform marine rescue missions.

“China has bright prospects with a great nation’s determination to become a global aviation power, equaling the traditional Western powers,” said Geng Ruguang.

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