KAI and PT DI to develop passenger jets (photo : wkrg)
KAI to develop passenger plane
Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI) has launched a project to develop passenger jets, a market that has long been dominated by Boeing and Airbus, sources said Wednesday.
"We are seeking to make a foray into the commercial airplane market through a joint project with an Indonesian defense firm," a KAI official told The Korea Times.
The move comes at a time when Boeing and Airbus face challenges from China, which recently unveiled a commercial airliner.
Beijing's state-owned Commercial Aircraft of China, or Comac, delivered its first of 30 ARJ21 passenger aircraft to Chengdu Airlines in late November.
Comac is also pushing to develop a larger jetliner, the C919, with targets efficiency levels comparable with those of the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX, according to local media. A prototype of the 158-to-174 seater was unveiled in early November.
In order to join the race, KAI signed a Strategic Cooperation Agreement (SCA) with Indonesia's state-run PT Dirgantara Indonesia (PTDI), Dec. 4, the company said.
KAI KC-100 Naraon (photo : KAI)
Under the deal, the two companies will strengthen collaboration in the defense aviation industry, but also work toward making commercial airplanes.
The Indonesian company is already participating in Korea's domestic KF-X fighter jet development project.
PTDI has experience in developing its own 50-seater N-250 and the 100-seater N-2130 civil aircraft in the 1990s, while KAI has successfully developed military aircraft such as the T-50 supersonic trainer and the FA-50 light-combat aircraft.
"It will be a win-win for both parties, as each can help the other in their respective areas of technological superiority," said the official.
He noted that the two companies plan to meet twice a year to discuss their cooperation in the development of a civilian jetliner and other aircraft including drones.
"The first meeting will take place within the first half of this year," he said.
PT DI N-250 (photo : Kaskus Militer)
He added that the feasibility study to figure out potential demand for civilian aircraft will also take place, saying, "Securing demand in the domestic markets of both Korea and Indonesia is our preliminary goal."
From 2008 to 2013, KAI developed the four-seat, low-wing, single-engine KC-100 Naraon that was marked as the nation's first passenger plane. The Naraon is expected to enter service this year.
KAI President and CEO Ha Sung-yong said last year that taking the commercialization of Naraon as an opportunity, KAI will make efforts to attain its ambition to develop and produce a 100-seater passenger plane.
The move apparently comes because sales of civilian aircraft account for almost 80 percent of the world aviation market, so there is a limit to focusing only on the defense aviation industry.