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More evidence of China’s progress toward developing a homegrown regional turboprop has emerged, adding fuel to the speculative fire that Xian Aircraft Company has successfully flown its MA700 turboprop with engines that weren’t provided directly by Pratt & Whitney Canada.

Related: Disconnecting Russia from aviation’s world order came gradually – then all at once

A photo posted April 2 (and deleted days later) on Chinese social media is of the forward fuselage of an airborne MA700. The wings and engine of the 80-seat regional turboprop were deliberately cropped out of the photo, whose location and date were not discernible.

All of these clues come as China watches its neighbor Russia cut off from western aerospace hardware following its invasion of Ukraine.

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Jon Ostrower is Editor-in-chief of The Air Current. Prior to launching TAC in June 2018, Ostrower served as Aviation Editor for CNN Worldwide, guiding the network's global coverage of the business and operations of flying. Ostrower joined CNN in 2016 following four and half years at the Wall Street Journal. Based first in Chicago and then in Washington, D.C. he covered Boeing, aviation safety and the business of global aerospace. Before that, Ostrower was editor of the award-winning FlightBlogger for Flightglobal and Flight International Magazine covering the development of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and other new aircraft programs from 2007 to 2012. Ostrower, a Boston native, graduated from The George Washington University's School of Media and Public Affairs with a bachelor's degree in Political Communication. He is based in Seattle.

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