AVIC has announced that Joy Air and Okay Airways are the launch customers for its in-development MA700 turboprop programme.
The two Chinese carriers will now be involved in the development of the 70-seat turboprop, to ensure that the aircraft meets market demands, says the programme’s chief engineer Dong Jian Hong. He was speaking at the signing ceremony at Airshow China in Zhuhai.
The airframer did not disclose the number of MA700s the airlines will order.
Dong says the target is for the MA700 to take its first flight in 2017, and be certificated by the Civil Aviation Administration of China in 2019. Thereafter, it will also seek certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration – making it the first Chinese-made turboprop to apply for western certification.
Joy Air and Okay Airways are existing operators of the older MA60 turboprop, and AVIC believes their involvement will help push the MA700 programme forward, considering their experience with turboprops.
The MA700 will compete with ATR and Bombardier in the large turboprop market. AVIC has said that its upcoming turboprop will have the speed just under that of the Bombardier Q400, and the operating economics of the ATR72.
China is showcasing its aerospace ambitions at the 10th installment of the show, highlighting its full range of indigenous aircraft.
AVIC pointed out that that the MA700, together with Comac’s ARJ21 regional jet and its C919 narrowbody, will offer customers a full-range of Chinese-made aircraft.
AVIC is showcasing a mockup of the MA700 at the show, while Comac has brought its ARJ21 (aircraft 106, due for delivery to launch customer Chengdu Airlines) for both static and flying displays.