This month’s Singapore Airshow (February 14 to 19) is on track to surpass the previous 2010 event, with more than 900 exhibitors booked to participate from some 50 countries. What many observers will be keen to gauge is the extent to which the Asia-Pacific’s air transport and defense markets are holding up in the face of continued Western decline.
Aviation Industry Corporation of China
Yesterday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) certified the country’s “new” homegrown heavy-lift helicopter, the AC313. It tips the scales at 27,600 pounds, can carry up to 27 people and has a maximum ferry range of 560 miles and service ceiling of nearly 28,000 feet. The helicopter was built by state-owned Avic, the same company that recently made Chinese-market Sikorsky S-76 airframes under contract.
Lao Airlines, the national airline of Laos, expects to take delivery of its first Avic “Modern Ark” MA600 turboprop “sometime after February,” marking the 56-seat turboprop’s entry into revenue service outside China. The only other two existing MA600s, delivered in December 2010 and September 2011, respectively, operate in China with the Civil Aviation Flight University of China (Cafuc) for training purposes.
China-based manufacturer Avic has brought its MA600 twin turboprop to Dubai Air Show and the aircraft is performing daily in the flying display, making its international airshow debut.
Two aircraft are now operating in China for training purposes and delivery of the third–the one that is performing here at the show will be to Lao Airlines. That delivery is scheduled for the first quarter of 2012.
China’s airliner fleet is set to grow more than three-fold over the next two decades, rising from 1,506 in 2010 to 5,118 in 2030, according to the latest “China Market Outlook for Civil Aircraft 2011-2030” published during last week’s Aviation Expo show in Beijing by the Aviation Industries of China (Avic).
While other OEMs are exploring joint business jet production with Avic in China, Embraer has already secured an agreement with the Chinese company to produce super-midsize Legacy 600s and 650s in Harbin. Embraer had an agreement with Avic to make ERJ-145 regional jets in Harbin until RJ production ended there late last year.
Yesterday at EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis., Cirrus co-founder Dale Klapmeier said the company’s recent majority acquisition by China’s state-owned Avic will provide the necessary capital to restart the moribund SF50 single-engine jet program. He said the company needs time to re-ramp and re-staff the effort and that a new timetable for the jet is at least four to five months out.
While news announced by Cessna and other OEMs at the Shanghai business aviation show in March to explore joint business jet production with Avic in China resurfaced last week in other trade media, Embraer is actually doing, not just exploring.
Boeing and China’s Avic have signed an agreement to set up a joint-training center specifically aimed at improving the quality of products made in China for Boeing aircraft. Avic has also been awarded a contract to build 1,000 Boeing 737 rudders by the U.S. company.
Liebherr Aerospace of Germany and Avic of China are to form a joint venture company for the manufacture of landing gear for the Comac C919 aircraft.
The joint venture is between Avic’s subsidiary Landing-gear Advanced Manufacturing Co. and Liebherr Aerospace Lindenberg became a reality when the contract was signed here at the Paris Air Show.