Aircraft exporter to spread its wings abroad

Updated: 2013-06-22 01:42

By ZHAO LEI in Paris (China Daily)

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China's national aircraft exporter is seeking to expand its market share by selling more advanced planes to foreign clients, according to an executive from the company.

"We have started development of the two-seater FC-1 Fierce Dragon and plan to introduce it to the international market in three to four years," Ma Zhiping, general manager of China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp, said at the 50th International Paris Air Show.

The Paris event, which claims to be the world's oldest and largest air show, was established in 1909 and is held every other year at Le Bourget Airport in northern Paris.

"Many potential buyers have told us they hope we can produce a two-seater variant of the FC-1 Fierce Dragon. We are in negotiations with several countries on their purchases," Ma said. "We hope at least one contract can be signed this year."

He added the likely deal will involve a considerable number of FC-1s.

"Around two years ago, I said we had hoped we could sell 300 FC-1s within five years. Now two years have passed and the sales record gives me full confidence of achieving this goal."

Ma's company is the biggest State-owned enterprise exporting aviation defense products and has a strong presence in the global military aircraft market. It is run under the Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC), the country's leading aircraft manufacturer.

The FC-1 Fierce Dragon is a third-generation multi-role combat aircraft developed by AVIC in cooperation with the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, the leading aviation company in Pakistan.

The aircraft has gained recognition from its Pakistani users.

"During my trips to many countries, almost everyone I met would ask me about the aircraft. Many said they want to join this project," Air Marshal Sohail Gul Khan, chairman of the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, told China Daily.

Compared with the single-seat FC-1, the two-seater will have better aerodynamic design and more advanced avionic systems. It can be used as a trainer aircraft and will outperform the single-seat model in terms of air-to-surface strikes, Ma said.

Another aircraft highlighted by the Chinese exporter at the Paris show is the L-15 Falcon, a third-generation advanced trainer aircraft also developed by AVIC.

Ma said the L-15 Falcon is among the few trainer jets in the world capable of supersonic flight. It has an advanced fly-by-wire flight control system and other state-of-the-art avionic devices. Beside its role as a trainer aircraft, it has multiple functions such as aerial combat and air-to-surface strike capability, according to Ma.

He said a contract to sell six L-15s to an unnamed African nation was signed at the end of last year.

Chinese aircraft have taken a considerable share of the trainer-jet market, with about 300 JL-8s — a two-seater intermediate jet trainer and light-attack aircraft — being operated around the world, Ma said.