AVIC has formally launched the XIan MA700 programme and expects the turboprop to enter service in 2019.
The new 70-seat turboprop is positioned to best serve medium-sized markets within a 800km (500 mile) range. The aircraft will be able to operate in high temperature, high altitude environments and will be capable of frequent short take-offs and landings. Its fuel consumption, operation and maintenance costs are also expected to be lower than its peers in the same category, AVIC said at a recent press conference in Beijing.
The aircraft will be able to cruise at above 320kt (600km/h) and climb to its cruising altitude within 13 minutes.
Besides the baseline 70-seat model, AVIC also has plans to stretch and shrink the aircraft.
The Chinese manufacturer adds that the MA700, ARJ21 regional jet, and C919 narrowbody allow China to offer a range of aircraft types and increase the country's aircraft manufacturing prowess.
In September, AVIC told Flightglobal Pro that it had issued a tender to global suppliers for work on its MA700 and will decide on its choice of suppliers by early next year. It added that the manufacturer is targeting to achieve type certification for the turboprop from the Civil Aviation Administration of China by 2018.
Simultaneously, it will also pursue certification from either the US Federal Aviation Administration or EASA to ensure that the aircraft meets international standards.
The MA600 and its predecessor, the MA60, have been sold mostly to airline customers in developing countries in Asia and Africa. The MA700 will compete with the ATR 72-500/600 and Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 in the larger turboprop passenger aircraft market.