FAA to certify Chinese jet
THE Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States has begun work on certifying a Chinese-made aircraft that will be used as the basis for approval of a new 100-seat jet being developed by Beijing.
The director of the FAA's Asia-Pacific Office, Craig Beard, said at an aviation conference in Beijing that inspectors from the Washington-based regulatory body had just arrived at Xian Aircraft Co to begin certifying the Y-7-200X - a 50-seat passenger aircraft.
'Certification of this 50-passenger aircraft will be the predecessor for US acceptance of any future 100-seat aircraft that might be jointly developed in Asia,' said Mr Beard.
'FAA AEG (Aircraft Evaluation Group) personnel will be assisting the CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) in assuring that this transport category aircraft meets the operational requirements for a US air carrier to operate it in revenue service.
'FAA and CAAC continue to move forward to work together on larger aircraft designs.' The move to certify the Y-7-200X follows approval of the Y-12 (Model IV), a 19-seat, turbo-prop aircraft that was recently given its type certificate in the commuter category, under Part 23 of the Federal Aviation Regulations.
It was the first Chinese-designed and manufactured aircraft to be FAA type-certificated, meaning it met the operational requirements for US air carrier revenue service operations.
The Y-12 was built by Harbin Aircraft Manufacturing Co.
Aviation Industries of China (AVIC), a 560,000-employee state company, is now working with South Korea's Samsung Aerospace Industries to design and manufacture a new 100-seat aircraft in China.
The two have announced plans to take on a Western partner, and three manufacturing groups - Boeing, McDonnell Douglas and some of Airbus Industrie's four European partners - are fighting for the place in the programme.
The winner will be announced at the end of the year.
AVIC and Samsung said they expected to begin work on the project early next year, and hoped the first prototype could fly by the turn of the century.
The FAA in 1991 signed a limited scope Bilateral Airworthiness Agreement (BAA) with the CAAC, with the first work between the two regulators done to certify McDonnell Douglas MD-82 aircraft, built in China. The aircraft was co-produced by Douglas and Shanghai Aircraft Industrial Co.
The BAA was recently expanded to include Chinese small aircraft and non-electrical components to be exported to the US, and Mr Beard said certification of the Y-7-200X would help to expand the BAA further.
CAAC Vice-Minister Shen Yuankang said China was about to sign memorandums of understanding with several countries on information exchange regarding airworthiness regulations.
Mr Shen said Germany, Israel and the Netherlands were preparing to sign CAAC agreements.
Agreements were already in place with the US and France.