This week, China reached a major milestone in the development of its domestic Aerospace industry, as CFM International delivered the first LEAP-1C engine to the Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (COMAC). The LEAP-1C is a variant of CFM’s LEAP series, design specifically to be installed on the new C919 – which is currently under final assembly in Shanghai. The second engine is set to be delivered in August.
LEAP-1C being delivered to COMAC – July 2015
The delivery underpins COMAC’s drive to roll out the aircraft by the end of 2015 – with first flight now scheduled for the first half of 2016. Whilst the first flight has slipped back, the development and assembly of the C919 itself, is critical to China’s ultimate and future goal of developing an all indigenous aircraft.
The delivery cements the progress made in China’s strategy to develop its industry. In our ADS report published at the start of this year, The China Challenge, we identified the 3 key stages of China’s own industrial strategy – with the LEAP delivery underlining the second stage: producing a Chinese aircraft with complex systems and components supplied by Western companies. The report also looks at the issues surrounding China’s new economic objectives, its aviation growth challenges, and the strategic approach to building a domestic aerospace industry – all factors which will likely affect China’s future growth levels.
The LEAP-1C is the product of a joint venture between GE Aviation, and Snecma – and offers a 15% reduction on fuel efficiency, and a 50% margin in NOx emissions. The engine delivery allows COMAC to learn how to integrate and test a piece of cutting edge engine technology, and brings the C919 closer to increased production.
Whilst the majority of the 450 orders are for Chinese owned airlines, the C919 is seen as a stepping stone to development of a fully Chinese made aircraft in the future – which is able to compete on the global market.