Korea Develops Small Passenger Plane

Korea hopes to manufacture private jets and other civilian aircraft starting in 2014. The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs on Wednesday revealed a four-passenger aircraft and said it successfully completed a test flight at Korea Aerospace Industries in Sacheon, South Gyeongsang Province.

The ministry named the plane "Naraon" after gathering suggestions from the public. A ministry official said development will be completed by 2013 and mass production can begin in 2014 leading to private and corporate sales.

Korea has already developed an indigenous military jet, and exports are under way. But the country lacked the technology and infrastructure to develop civilian airplanes and had to import all of its non-military aircraft. The airplane unveiled on Wednesday was developed by the KAI since 2008, and around 90 percent of its parts are made with home-grown technology.

The aircraft can reach a top speed of 389 km/h and has a maximum range of 1,859 km, making it capable of reaching all parts of Japan, as well as major cities in China. It will cost in the region of W600 million (US$1=W1,055) and be used for private transport, commercial commuting, flight training, leisure and other purposes.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jul. 21, 2011 12:38 KST