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November 4, 2011

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C919 set to fly with imported engines initially

China's first homemade C919 jumbo jet, set to make its maiden flight in 2014, will initially fly with imported engines because Chinese-developed engines will take a while to be put in use.

The first batch of C919 jets will be powered by imported engines produced by CFM International, a joint venture between United States-based General Electric and France's Safran SA CFM will supply the engines in the jet's first few years of operation.

The first deliveries of Chinese-developed engines for the 150-seat jumbo jets are expected only in 2020, according to AVIC Commercial Aircraft Engine Co (AVIC/ACAE), the company tasked to develop the engines.

AVIC/ACAE, which was founded in Shanghai in early 2009, is jointly funded by the Aviation Industry Corp of China, Shanghai Electric and Shanghai Guosheng Group. Its mission is to develop a domestic power plant for the C919 and propel China into the turbofan engine market which is now dominated by GE, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney.

"The engine has become a bottleneck for the development of China's jumbo jet," AVIC/ACAE said in a statement released during the China International Industry Fair 2011, where the company is presenting for the first time a real size model of the turbofan of the engine that it's developing for the C919.

The real size model of the whole engine, named CJ1000-A, will be displayed at next year's Zhuhai air show in Guangdong Province, the company said.

In less than three years, AVIC/ACAE has evolved into a company with almost 500 researchers, many of whom were recruited from top multinational companies in the aerospace field.

Several Chinese airlines, including Air China, China Southern and China Eastern, as well as the leasing arms of GE and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, have placed orders for the C919, seen as a rival to planemakers Boeing and Airbus.


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