BEIJING (Reuters) - China has conducted a successful test flight of its first domestically developed jumbo air freighter, the official state news agency Xinhua reported on Saturday.
The Yun-20, or Transport-20, is designed for long-distance air transport of both cargo and passengers, Xinhua reported.
“The successful maiden flight of Yun-20 is significant in promoting China’s economic and national defense build-up as well as bettering its emergency handling such as disaster relief and humanitarian aid,” Xinhua said, adding that further test flights are scheduled.
China is determined to reduce dependency on foreign firms such as Boeing (BA.N), Airbus EAD.PA, General Electric (GE.N) and Rolls Royce Plc (RR.L) for the country’s soaring demand for planes and engines.
Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the country’s dominant military and commercial aviation contractor, has lobbied for Beijing to back a multi-billion dollar plan to build a high-performance engine.
Meanwhile a host of design flaws has delayed approval by the Civil Aviation Administration of China for the country’s homegrown 90-seat ARJ21 regional passenger jet.
At last November’s China Airshow, China unveiled 50 new orders for its COMAC C919 passenger jet which is designed to challenge Airbus and Boeing in the largest segment of the $100 billion annual jetliner market.
The orders for the 150-seat jet boosted the official tally to 380, reaching the state-owned Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China’s declared breakeven point of 300-400 orders.
However, analysts say it will be some time before the aircraft, due to make its maiden flight in 2014, proves both its technical worth and its financial viability.
Reporting by Nick Edwards; editing by Jason Neely