Local manufacturers face tough competition as they prepare for domestic and export push for aircraft

Two Chinese factories are developing new advanced trainers to compete for an expected domestic requirement and potential exports.

At Zhuhai, Hongdu Aviation Industry unveiled a mock-up of the supersonic L-15, featuring a wing-fuselage blended body, twin turbofan engines and fly-by-wire controls. Guizhou Aviation Industry displayed a model of the FTC-2000, which was unveiled at the Beijing exhibition in October 2003 and flew for the first time last December.

China has not agreed to acquire either aircraft, but both manufacturers are hopeful of domestic as well as international orders. They plan to market their aircraft in Africa, eastern Europe, the Middle East and south Asia, but will face stiff competition from Aermacchi, BAE Systems and Korea Aerospace Industries, which already have established advanced trainer products.

"We want to sell abroad, but up to now there is no contract," says Guizhou senior engineer Tang Qi Rong.

Guizhou projects a market for at least 150 FTC-200s, including 80 in China. Tang acknowledges China may instead opt for the L-15, but believes Guizhou has the edge because the FTC-2000, equipped with mechanical flight controls, is cheaper and has already flown.

He says Guizhou is planning soon to start manufacturing a small batch of four to six production aircraft. These will be used to get air force input, after which the aircraft will be modified if necessary and followed by a larger batch of 10-20 production units.

Hongdu has experience producing the K-8 basic trainer and PT-6 primary trainer, but is new to the advanced trainer arena. Guizhou is more established in this area, having produced about 200 FT-7PG advanced trainers.

Guizhou is still producing about 12 FT-7PGs annually, but hopes to phase this line out in favour of the FTC-2000, which offers better landing and take-off performance, plus the ability touch down at a slower speed than the FT-7PG.

Guizhou is part of China Aviation Industries I and Hongdu is part of China Aviation Industries II.


China's trainers compared







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*at 146kt


Source: Flight International