Today CFM International announced their LEAP-1C engine, for the COMAC C919, has won certification from both EASA and the FAA.
The certification from both agencies is unusual. Another unusual feature of this engine is that CFM provided COMAC with a totally integrated propulsion system that includes the engine, nacelle, and thrust reverser.
While this news is welcome and should mean a first flight is coming soon, one needs to remember the engine was first flown on the GE test bed in 2014. Only recently were the engines run for 10 minutes on a C919. The equivalent engines for the MAX have been in flight test for some time and on the neo have started deliveries already. COMAC has fallen behind on the C919 and consequently is more dependent on the home market than ever.
More than a year since its engines were delivered, the C919 fired them up for the first time last week on November 9th. The C919 is powered by the LEAP 1C, and is the third of the LEAP-engined models, after the A320neo and 737MAX. The LEAP 1C engines closely resemble those found on the A320neo, known as the LEAP 1A.
China Eastern Airlines will become the first customer to take delivery of the C919. COMAC has received 570 orders for the C919 from 23 customers, including Air China and China Southern Airlines. Now that its engine shave been run, the next steps are likely to be taxi tests. Absent any problems, the aircraft will move to high speed taxi tests. Then comes first flight – this was planned for 2016. But we don’t think this is likely given the short time remaining to year end.… Continue reading
COMAC representatives have conceded that the first flight of the C919, which was scheduled to be completed this year, will likely not fly until April 2017. This schedule slippage will likely add another three to six months to the program development timeline, which was scheduled for the first half of 2019. The program status is that the first test aircraft has been completed, but the challenge is to complete the ground testing of a long list of requirements before flying it.
This latest delay moves the program schedule further to the right, now about three years later than originally scheduled. If this schedule holds, it will be six years better than COMAC’s first aircraft, the ARJ-21, which ended up nine years behind schedule.
COMAC has set a goal to account for 5% of the domestic market by 2020. It currently has 517 orders for the C919… Continue reading
News from China is that the state has formally created the Aero Engine Corp of China. Headquartered in Beijing, the company has a registered capital of 50 billion yuan ($7.5bn), and 96,000 employees. The new company will consist of three current firms being merged. AVIC Aviation Engine Corp, Sichuan Chengfa Aero Science and Technology Co Ltd and AVIC Aero Engine Controls Co Ltd are the three firms that will together create the the Aero Engine Corp.
The WSJ reports China’s president sees this as a strategic move. This is no surprise since aerospace is seen as a national industrial priority in China.
China has struggled with the development of aero engines. It managed to copy the SU-27 to create an indigenous fighter. But China could not effectively copy the engines. China’s best fighters use Russian-made engines. Chinese commercial aircraft all use western-made… Continue reading
The COMAC C919 was rolled out yesterday in a ceremony at the factory in Tianjin. This represents a milestone for Chinese Aviation, which will now compete with Boeing and Airbus in the heart of the narrow-body marketplace. While the program, like most new programs today, has been delayed, it represents a major milestone for the aircraft maker. Of course, as we have seen with the Boeing 787, the time from roll-out to entry into service still runs the risk of further delays, but represents a major step forward for the company.
The C919 has a remarkable resemblance to the Airbus A320 family in design and layout, and looks like an aircraft that could be successfully stretched should demand for a larger model emerge.