Istanbul: China’s state-run aircraft maker is plugging its turboprop planes to India, which it says is a potential market for dozens of the 60 seaters.
China Aviation Industry Corp. I, or Avic I as the company is known, is awaiting approval from India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) for the short-haul aircraft named MA60.
The aircraft is flying in six countries—Bolivia, the Congo, Indonesia, Laos, Zambia and Zimbabwe—and is suitable more for India than China, which has a more advanced transport infrastructure, said a senior official at AVIC I, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media.
“These are not suitable for our routes as we have good transport, high speed rails and highways. Turboprop will lose to highways (in China),” said the official.
China has launched an ambitious civilian aeronautics program to build aircraft that, by the end of the next decade, can compete with those supplied by European manufacturer Airbus SAS and Boeing Co. of the US, which dominate the market for commercial planes. By next year it also plans to have its first regional jet, the ARJ21, ready to compete with planes made by Brazil’s Embraer and Canada’s Bombardier as well as the Russian-built Superjets.
In 2006, it reached an agreement with Airbus to set up an an assembly plant for A320 planes in the north Chinese port city of Tianjin—the only one outside Europe—in a joint venture with AVIC 1.
Should the Indian aviation regulator gives it approval, the Chinese aircraft maker hopes to sell its turboprops to customers such as the Delhi-based Indus Airways Pvt. Ltd and MDLR Airlines Pvt. Ltd., with which it has had talks.
It hopes to eventually win as many as ten Indian customers.
“We have had talks with the DGCA and a senior delegation that was expected to visit our facility last month could not make it. They are now expected to finalise their new dates (for a visit) soon,” the same official said, adding that Indian IT firms such as Infosys with bases in China were already helping the state-run aviation company in developing systems for such aircraft.
The Chinese manufacturer was the sole displayer of its models at the just concluded International Air Transport Association (IATA) meeting here.
Tarun Shukla was in Istanbul as a guest of IATA.