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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

China builds world's largest press forge

CHENGDU, Dec. 7 (Xinhua) -- China has started the building of an 80,000-ton press forge in Deyang, the southwestern Sichuan Province, paving the way for making large planes, a longtime dream of the nation.

The project, with an investment of 1.517 billion yuan (204.7 million U.S. dollars), has won the approval of the National Development and Reform Commission and is expected to be the world's largest when it is finished in two and a half years, said Zeng Xiangdong, project director and vice general manager of China National Erzhong Group Co. on Friday.

A large die-hydraulic press forge is one of the key instruments in making jumbo planes. Only a few countries, including the United States, Russia and France, have such facilities, according to Zeng.

The current largest press forge is 75,000-tons and is owned by Russia. All the press forges currently in China are below 40,000 tons, which are unfit for making key parts of very large planes and hence hinder the development of the aviation industry, equipment and manufacturing.

Chen Xiaoci, vice director of the press forge project, said the machine is designed by China National Erzhong Group and built in the company's compound.

The company has produced more than 400,000 die-forgings during the past 30-odd years for China's aviation industry, used in all the models of Chinese airplanes.

China started to build very large aircraft in 1970, only two years after Airbus went into production, but the project was later shelved despite a promising start.

After a decades-long suspension, the central government last year revived the blueprint in the 11th five-year plan (2006-2010) in order to meet the country's growing demand for air travel.

To prepare for the very large plane project, China began building its own regional jet, the ARJ-21 -- meaning "advanced regional jet for the 21st century" -- in 2002.

Only the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Britain and Spain currently have the ability to build very large aircraft, with the United State's Boeing and Europe's Airbus taking the lion's share of the international market.


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