CFM International is confident Comac’s C919 program is progressing on a sound basis, but the engine manufacturer does have contingency plans for the Leap-1C turbofan it has designed for the narrowbody to mitigate program risks in case further delays arise.
Since the Leap-1C is the same engine as the -1A model that will power the Airbus A320 neo, except for the interfaces with the pylon and nacelle, CFM has not had to develop specific turbomachinery for the C919. Nonetheless, CFM executive v-p Chaker Chahrour said yesterday at the Singapore Airshow that the company would be closely monitoring the Chinese program to avoid building engines that end up languishing in inventory in the event of further delays.
“The dates Comac has announced are pretty solid,” said Chahrour. He emphasized Comac is “coming up to speed very fast” and the two companies are learning from each other a lot. But, he added that Comac, “needs more experience in program management” and that the Chinese group is having difficulties with some of its suppliers.
He noted, however, that Comac “needs more experience in program management.” He also mentioned some difficulties the Chinese firm is having with its suppliers.
CFM has already built the first Leap-1C engine that will fly on a Boeing 747 flying testbed this spring and Comac recently delivered the first pylon for the program. Meanwhile, Nexcelle, a joint venture between CFM partners GE and Safran, has just delivered the first O-Duct nacelle for the turbofan.
China is now CFM’s main market, followed by Indonesia, which has outpaced India and Japan. Chahrour said growth in India has slowed due to uncertainty as to how the long-awaited airline consolidation might unfold. Other countries to watch are Vietnam and the Philippines, according to Chahrour.