U.S. weighs blocking GE engine sales for China’s new airplane: sources


Karen Freifeld, Alexandra Alper

February 16, 2020 / 4:48 AM / Updated an hour ago

(Reuters) – The U.S. government is considering whether to stop General Electric Co from continuing to supply engines for a new Chinese passenger jet, according to people familiar with the matter, casting uncertainty over China’s efforts to enter the civil aviation market.

FILE PHOTO: China’s home-grown C919 passenger jet taxis after landing on its maiden flight at the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China May 5, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song

The potential restriction on the engine sales – possibly along with limits on other components for Chinese commercial aircraft such as flight control systems made by Honeywell International Inc – is the latest move in the battle between the world’s two largest economies over trade and technology.

The issue is expected to come up at an interagency meeting about how strictly to limit exports of U.S. technology to China on Thursday and at another meeting with members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet set for Feb. 28, sources said.

The White House and the U.S. Commerce Department, which issues licenses for such exports, declined to comment, as did a GE spokeswoman. The departments of Defense, State, Energy and Treasury did not respond to requests for comment.

For years, the United States has supported American companies’ business with China’s budding civil aviation industry.

The government has provided licenses that allow those companies to sell engines, flight control systems and other components for China’s first large commercial aircraft, the COMAC C919. The narrow-body jet has already engaged in test flights and is expected to go into service next year. COMAC is an acronym for Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd [CMAFC.UL].

But the Trump administration is weighing whether to deny GE’s latest license request to provide the CFM LEAP-1C engine for the C919, people familiar with the matter said, though GE has received licenses for the LEAP engines since 2014 and was last granted one in March 2019.

The CFM LEAP engine is a joint venture between GE and France’s Safran Aircraft Engines. The proposal to halt the deliveries of the engines was also reported on Saturday by the Wall Street Journal.

Safran did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and French government officials could not be reached for comment.

Aside from aircraft engines, flight control systems are up for discussion at the February meetings. Honeywell International has received licenses to export flight control systems to COMAC for the C919 for about a decade, and one was approved in early 2020, according to a person familiar with the matter.

But future permission for such sales for COMAC’s passenger aircrafts may be up for debate. Honeywell also has been seeking a license for flight control technology to participate in the development of the C929, China’s planned wide-body jet venture with Russia, the person said.

The flight control system operates moving mechanical parts, such as the wing flaps, from the cockpit.

A spokeswoman for Honeywell declined to comment.

An aerospace trade group official said his organization would like to weigh in on any policy shifts.

If there are any changes, we would hope they would engage with us, as they’ve done before,” said Remy Nathan, vice president for international affairs at the Aerospace Industries Association.

At the heart of the debate over a possible crackdown on the sale of U.S. parts to China’s nascent aircraft industry is whether such shipments would fuel the rise of a serious competitor to U.S.-based Boeing Co or boost China’s military capabilities.

People familiar with the matter said some administration officials are concerned the Chinese could reverse engineer some items, though others say an abundance of LEAP engines in China has not brought that about to date.

If the United States were to move ahead with the measure, one person familiar with the matter said, China could retaliate by ordering more planes from Airbus SE, rather than crisis-hit Boeing, which relies on China for a fourth its deliveries.

The Trump administration’s meetings about technology issues also are set to include a discussion of whether to impose further restrictions on suppliers to Huawei Technologies, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, which is on a U.S. trade blacklist.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld and Alexandra Alper; additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris; editing by Jonathan Oatis

Source: Reuters “U.S. weighs blocking GE engine sales for China’s new airplane: sources”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Test flight takes C919 closer to gaining prized airworthiness certification


By ZHU WENQIAN | China Daily | Updated: 2019-10-25 07:20

Photo fifth C919

The fifth test aircraft of the C919, China’s first domestically manufactured narrow-body passenger jet, takes part in a test flight in Shanghai on Thursday. [Photo provided to China Daily]

The fifth test aircraft of the C919, China’s first domestically manufactured narrow-body passenger jet, took part in a test flight in Shanghai on Thursday, indicating it is on a faster track to gaining airworthiness certification before entering the market in 2021, industry experts said.

The code number of the fifth test jet is 105 and the last test jet of its kind, known as the 106 test aircraft, is expected to complete its first test flight by the end of the year.

The 105 test aircraft will mainly undertake test flights in special weather conditions such as high temperatures and extremely cold weather. In addition, it will take related tests on environmental control, power supply, fuselage liquid discharge and other subjects, said its manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corp of China.

“Six test aircraft of the C919 will all be put into test flights by the end of this year, meaning the airworthiness certification of the C919 will be speeded up in an all-around way,” said Lin Zhijie, an aviation industry analyst.

“Large aircraft manufacturing is difficult, and we must have a craftsmanship spirit. It’s impossible to reach the sky in a single bound. The C919 will need to fly safely and reliably first, and then continuously improve and upgrade its performance. The second and third generations of the aircraft may challenge mainstream Western manufacturers,” Lin said.

The first four C919 test jetsthe 101, 102, 103 and 104are undergoing more test flights, static tests, and other ground tests at several testing bases, including Yanliang district in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, Dongying in Shandong province, and Nanchang in Jiangxi province, COMAC said.

The 105 prototype test aircraft of the C919 took off at 10 am on Thursday morning from Shanghai Pudong International Airport, and flew for one hour and 37 minutes, before successfully returning to the airport. The aircraft completed several tests and initial control checks on aircraft systems.

From conducting its debut flight to obtaining airworthiness certification, an aircraft model needs to undergo more than 1,000 tests, including those related to high temperatures, high humidity, extreme cold, strong crosswinds, its minimum liftoff speed and stalling, according to COMAC.

So far, 815 orders have been placed for the C919 from home and abroad. Its competitive models include the single-aisle B737 of Boeing Co and the A320 of Airbus SE.

The C919’s latest test flight comes at a time when its competitor Boeing’s B737 MAX jets remain grounded worldwide following two fatal crashes, which killed a total of 346 peopleon Oct 29 last year in Indonesia and March 10 in Ethiopia.

Source: China Daily “Test flight takes C919 closer to gaining prized airworthiness certification”

Note: This is China Daily’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Third prototype of China’s C919 jet completes first test flight


The third prototype of China’s home-built passenger jet C919 takes off during its first test flight at Shanghai Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China December December 28, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

December 28, 2018

BEIJING (Reuters) – A third prototype of China’s home-built C919 narrowbody passenger jet completed its first test flight on Friday, its manufacturer said, in another step forward in the nation’s push to become a global civil aerospace player.

The C919, which will compete with Boeing Co’s (BA.N) 737 and the Airbus SE (AIR.PA) A320, is widely regarded as a symbol of China’s civil aerospace ambition and President Xi Jinping’s policy of upgrading manufacturing capabilities.

In a statement on its official microblog, Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC) [CMAFC.UL] said the plane landed safely at Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 12:45 p.m. (0445 GMT), having flown for 1 hour and 38 minutes.

The jet will next fly to the city of Xian in central China for more test flights with a focus on aircraft flutter and airspeed calibration, the company said.

The second prototype of the C919 jet conducted its first flight in December 2017, seven months after the maiden flight of the first C919.

COMAC said it is assembling a further three prototypes, and that all six will be scheduled to conduct flight tests next year.

The C919 has dozens of customers that have placed orders and commitments for 815 jets.

COMAC is aiming to obtain certification for the plane from Chinese regulators by the end of 2020, as well as Europe’s aviation safety regulator, which agreed in April to start the certification process.

Reporting by Stella Qiu and Brenda Goh; Editing by Christopher Cushing

Source: Reuters “Third prototype of China’s C919 jet completes first test flight”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


Maiden Flight of 3rd China-made C919 Large Airliner within This Year


China’s homegrown C919 large airliner. Chinanews.com photo

During the two sessions of NPC and CPPCC, progress in the development of China’s homegrown C919 large airliners draws keen interest. NPC deputy Xiang Qiao told reporters that so far great progress has been made in key technology of the core parts of C919. Xiang is deputy chief designer of the state major special project of aviation engines and gas turbines and a member of Chinese Engineering Academy.

According to Xiang, China is closer to the goal of obtaining the ability to produce advanced aviation engines independently than ever before.

He pointed out that China’s goal is not so simple as to make a few types of engines but to lay sound foundation for scientific research and technology and establish close cooperation among various domestic collages and scientific research institutes to join force and superior resources to tackle key problems.

Another NPC deputy and member of the Academy, chief designer of C919 Wu Guanghui said that China had made two prototypes and tested them a total of 23 time. He disclosed that maiden flight of the third prototype of C919 is expected to be conducted at the end of this year. China plans to make three more prototypes for test flights to ensure that they meet over 1,000 requirements. There will also be two more prototypes for whole-plane static and stress tests.

Source: Beijing Youth Daily “C919 chief designer: Maiden flight of third homegrown large airliner expected at the end of this year” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)


China’s C919 jet completes first long-distance flight


FILE PHOTO: China’s domestically developed C919 passenger jet is seen during its second test flight near Pudong International Airport in Shanghai, China September 28, 2017. China Daily via REUTERS

Reuters Staff November 10, 2017 / 3:05 PM / Updated 21 minutes ago

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – China’s self-developed C919 passenger jet completed its first long-distance flight on Friday, in a milestone that its manufacturer said marks the plane’s move into an airworthiness certification phase.

The Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC) said in a statement the C919 flew for 2 hours and 23 minutes from Shanghai to the central Chinese city of Xi‘an, traveling more than 1,300 km (800 miles) and reaching an altitude of 7,800 meters (25,590 feet).

The jet, which China wants to compete with Boeing Co’s 737 and the Airbus SE A320, is a symbol of China’s civil aerospace ambitions. It will remain in Xi‘an to undergo further testing, the planemaker said.

“This ferry flight indicates that the C919 possess the ability to fly inter-city routes,” COMAC said in the statement. “(It) marks the move into research and development flight-testing and airworthiness certification work.”

The latest flight is the plane’s sixth test since it flew for the first time on May 5. Analysts had questioned the long time gaps between previous test flights.

COMAC is aiming to obtain certification for the plane from Chinese regulators as well as Europe’s aviation safety regulator, which in April agreed to start the certification process.

COMAC said it planned to eventually test six C919 planes and will carry out the first flight for its second jet by the end of this year. The plane currently has 27 customers who have placed orders and commitments for 730 jets, it added.

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Editing by Stephen Coates

Source: “China’s C919 jet completes first long-distance flight”

Note: This is Reuters’ report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.


US and China forge deal for mutual recognition of aircraft safety approvals


SCMP says in its report “US and China forge deal for mutual recognition of aircraft safety approvals” today that it was announced on October 27 that the US and China concluded US-China Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement. It says, “Under the agreement, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration of the US) and the Civil Aviation Administration of China will recognise the other’s regulatory systems for aircraft and parts.’

The agreement facilitates Boeing’s export of airliners to China but “may also help speed international approvals for the first Chinese aircraft designed to compete against single-aisle planes made by Boeing and Airbus SE”, SCMP said.

Source: SCMP “US and China forge deal for mutual recognition of aircraft safety approvals” (summary by Chan Kai Yee, full text of which can be found at http://www.scmp.com/news/world/united-states-canada/article/2117384/us-and-china-forge-deal-mutual-recognition-aircraft)


China Makes J-20 and C919 Engines with Rhenium Superalloy


On September 12, I reblogged Popular Science’s September-9 article “China’s J-20 stealth fighter may be getting a new engine”. According to the article, there was a new J-20 prototype no. 2021 installed with a new WS-10X engine better stealth with 14-15 ton vector thrust that enables J-20 to conduct supersonic supercruise without using fuel-thirsty afterburners.

The article speculates that China’s J-20 will mainly use homegrown engines because China is able to produce and use rhenium-nickel superalloy, but there has been no other sources to confirm that. At that time, I guess that China got Ukraine help in developing such superalloy.

In my post “Ukraine Helps China Make Rhenium Superalloy for High Tech Warplanes” on September 22, I quoted Global Times’ article “Experts clarify rumor of changes in aircraft engine cooperation: Cooperation achievements in display” on September 20 as saying, “From the manufacturing point of view, China is relatively weak in the technology of making and casting of single crystal alloys, powder metallurgy, etc. In Russian-Ukraine system, those technologies have already been applied for more than one or several decades. They have played a great boosting role in improving China’s aircraft engines.”

However, CCTV’s report on October 24 makes known that China’s Space Travel Superalloy Technology Co., Ltd. of Chengdu extracts and purifies rhenium. The Engineering Physics Research Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences has succeeded in using rhenium superalloy to make various parts of aircraft engines, especially the single crystal turbine blades. Xu Gang, a laboratory chief of the research institute says that all the parts have been designed and produced by the institute on its own.

Zhu Junqiang, head of the research institute, showed CCTV reporter an engine for UAV and commercial airliner. He told the reporter that the engine was undergoing 150 hours of test. When it has passed the test, it will be installed on an aircraft to undergo flight tests.

J-20 is now using China’s homegrown WS-10X engines better than those imported from Russia and will use WS-15 when it has been successfully developed.

China’s C919 airliner uses imported engine now but according to Zhu China is developing its homegrown engine for C919.

The report also discloses that China is using rhenium superalloy for its satellites, rockets and spaceships.

Source: CCTV “Chinese enterprises break US monopoly in successfully making core parts of aircraft engines” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on the report in Chinese)