News from China today is that AVIC announced orders for 185 MA700s. Customers include Joy Air, Okay Airways, Cambodia Bayon Airlines and several leasing companies committed the new regional turboprop. Air China, China Southern, China Eastern and Hainan Airlines apparently have also expressed interest.
The MA700 was launched in December 2013, and this modernized aircraft is focused on routes up to 800km and is designed for hot and high operations. The standard version has 70 seats, plus a smaller 50-seater and a larger 90-seater are to be developed. For the first flight it is planned for 2017 with certification by Chinese authorities scheduled for 2019.
Exciting as this is for AVIC, we note that customers are likely to initially be located in or near China. Although the Xian aircraft will have a host of western suppliers, delays in the program can be anticipated. Even though the company has been making aircraft for some time. The announcements of orders today include some that are already known. That said, China’s aerospace ambitions continue to grow and expand.