China Flies New Single

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It was five years in development, but collective efforts by three Chinese organizations to design, assemble, and fly a new single-engine airplane came to fruition Dec. 7. The five-seat plane, dubbed "AC500" or "Air Car 500," made its first flight in Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province. The Nanjing Light Aircraft Company Ltd. and the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics developed the plane while the Hongdu Aviation Industry Group based in Nanchang produced it. Projected pricing is 3.6 million yuan (US $433,734), according to Nanjing Light Aircraft Company. Two prototypes were constructed, including a business version and a training model equipped with a dual control system. The five-seat plane was designed for a variety of missions, including business travel, airborne research and mineral exploration. The AC500 has a 33.5-foot (10.2 meter) wingspan, is 27.6 feet (8.4 meters) long and 17.1 feet (5.2 meters) high. Announced performance numbers include a range of 540 nm (1,000 km), a maximum speed of 155 knots (289 kph) and a service ceiling of 18,000 feet.