Written by Rob Paix
The sound of a jet airliner passing overhead is so common most of us don’t take any notice of it. Next time you hear the drone of a propeller plane flying over the city, you might want to take note. The plane is most likely a Xi’an MA60 turboprop belonging to local airline Joy Air. Yes, that’s right – just as you can fly on a Boeing 737 or Airbus A320, you can also fly on a Xi’an MA60. For that matter, there is also such a thing as a Xi’an JH-7A Flying Leopard and a Xi’an Y-20 Kun Peng, but you’ll never get a seat on either of them—they’re a fighter-bomber and a military transport, respectively.
How did these airplane types come to be called “Xi’an?”
What is now known as the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) was established as a state-owned enterprise in 1951. AVIC has various subsidiaries around the country, one of which is the Xi’an Aircraft Industry Company (XAC, Chinese: 西安飞机工业). Aircraft produced by XAC are, naturally, branded “Xi’an,”and there are also planes buzzing around the skies bearing names such as “Shenyang” and “Harbin.”
XAC is based in Xi’an’s Yanliang District, which is also known as a“China Aviation City.” XAC’s facility boasts an area of over 4 million square meters with around 17,000 employees, and the companyclaims to have developed and manufactured more than thirty types of military and civilian aircraft over the past fifty years.Many of these aircraft have been Soviet types built under license andtheir later derivations.It’s fair to say that none of them have exactly set the world on fire—the MA60, for instance,is only used in China and some small countries in Africa, Asia and South America—but they do represent an important phase in the development of what is now a rapidly growing Chinese aerospace technology and engineering sector.XAC also builds major components for Airbus and Boeing.In more recent years China has embarked on a number of ambitious new aircraft design and development programs of their own.
International Air Show in Xi’an
As an aviation city, Xi’an plays host to the biennial China International General Aviation Convention (CIGAC).CIGAC 2015, coming up this October, features trade shows, forums, B2B contacts and an air show.The air showwill include aerobatics and stunt flying, joy flights, skydiving, interactive games and lots of other activities that should be fun for people of all ages. Over 100 aircraft from around the world are expected to be on display and more than 100,000 visitors are anticipated. This event will be held at Pucheng County Airport, a roughly two-hourdrive northeast of Xi’an, and will be open to the general public on October 17 and 18.