The China-developed MA60 regional plane is playing an important role in helping central African countries build regional airline networks, said the aircraft’s developer Friday.

Fourteen MA60 aircraft now serve seven central African countries via 20 regional air routes, which have jointly created a primary regional airline network, said the state-owned China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC).

“Aviation is a high-end industry and a significant component in cooperation among Belt and Road countries to boost their connectivity and industrial cooperation,” said Tan Ruisong, president of AVIC. “As the backbone of China’s aviation industry, AVIC is going all out to provide our aviation products, services and air traffic solutions to build a Silk Road in the sky.”

More of China’s homegrown civil airplanes such as the MA60 and the Y12 are serving Belt and Road countries and sustaining their air transportation.

The turbo-engine MA60 is manufactured by AVIC Xi’an Aircraft Industry Company Ltd. in northwest China’s Xi’an, the starting point of the ancient Silk Road. It is designed for short airstrips.

A total of 108 MA60 planes had been delivered to 18 countries by September 2017. They have been put into services on 300 air routes worldwide, with 10 million passenger throughput.

AVIC International Aero-Development Corporation (AVIC International), a subsidiary of AVIC, has been actively involved in the implementation of projects such as the China-Africa Regional Aviation Cooperation Program.

To ensure the smooth and effective operation of Chinese aircraft in Africa, AVIC International has established a market network and customer service system in Africa for China-made aircraft.

It has also set up a marketing center for China-made aircraft in English- and French-speaking regions of Africa.

AVIC International has established a technical support center and a maintenance center for China-made aircraft in Africa, and three spare parts centers for China-made aircraft are being built.

AVIC will continuously update the MA60 and MA600 aircraft and speed up development of the MA700, a new generation of turboprop regional aircraft, according to the group.