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FAA opens China office to foster cooperation

March 10, 2007|From the Associated Press

SHANGHAI — In a move expected to boost U.S. aviation industry sales to China's fast-growing market, the Federal Aviation Administration opened an office in Shanghai on Friday to aid Chinese manufacturers' efforts to get certification for their aircraft.

The office initially will support efforts by China's General Administration of Civil Aviation to meet safety standards and gain approval for its planned ARJ-21 passenger jet, said John Hickey, director of the FAA's Aircraft Certification Service.

Civil aviation authorities around the world usually follow the FAA's lead on safety issues, and certification is a crucial step for any new airliner.

Working more closely will facilitate ties with many of the U.S. companies that are working with China on the ARJ-21, Hickey said.

"This is certainly facilitating the exchange of aeronautical products between the United States and China," he said.

Stronger ties could also help in other areas such as air traffic.

"Closer cooperation always helps," said Daniel Torres, Asian-Pacific flight operations manager for Memphis, Tenn.-based FedEx Corp., which is building a regional hub in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

The ARJ-21 is part of China's effort to design and build its own large aircraft, although foreign manufacturers are to supply 40% of its components.

A significant share of that business has gone to U.S. companies. General Electric Co. is expected to provide the jet's engines, Rockwell Collins Inc. the cockpit, Parker Hannifin Corp. the fuel system and Honeywell International Inc. the avionics.

Production of the ARJ-21, with a capacity of 70 to 100 passengers, is expected to begin by the end of the year, with the first test flights scheduled for next March, said Zheng Qiang, a vice president of China Aviation Industry Corp. I, its state-owned manufacturer.

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