Last week China flew a new home-grown heavy-lift helicopter for the first time. The AC313 tips the scales at 27,600 pounds, can carry up to 27 people, has a maximum ferry range of 560 miles and was built at state-owned AVIC, the same company making Sikorsky S-76C++ airframes. The AC313 appears to be an outgrowth of the 14,000-pound Chinese Zhi-8. That medium helicopter is based on the 1970s-vintage Aérospatiale SA321 Super Frelon.
All the speculation and chatter over the prospects of re-engining the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737s families will finally end this year, judging by statements from senior Airbus and Boeing executives this month. In fact, John Leahy, Airbus COO for customers, went so far as to say that his company would like to decide whether or not to proceed with a re-engining project by the time the Farnborough Air Show opens in July.
CFM International continues to work “on a daily basis” with Boeing and Airbus on new engine applications for the 737 and A320 families, according to Eric Bachelet, president and CEO of the General Electric-Snecma joint venture.
Rockwell Collins (Stand U77) is truly in growth mode here in the Asia-Pacific region, where the company continues to invest in strategic alliances and projects such as a new engineering facility in Hyderabad, India. The U.S. avionics group has built a team of employees covering 14 locations throughout the region.
Given China’s standing as the world’s third largest market for commercial airplanes, it should have come as little surprise when Bombardier moved to consolidate its foothold in the People’s Republic with a proposal to collaborate on the indigenous ARJ21-900 regional jet during the 2007 Paris Air Show.
Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China (Comac) has started building the final assembly line for the homegrown C919 passenger jet near Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport. The assembly line is set to be the biggest in China, according to Comac general manager Jin Zhuanglong. It will assemble, test and deliver the new ARJ21 and C919 airliners, as well as including component production and aircraft maintenance facilities.
China has long toured the international airshow circuit heralding its ambitions to become a major player in the aerospace sector. The China National Aero Technology Import and Export agency is at Singapore Airshow this week (Stand V67) and seems to have made some tangible steps toward establishing its role in the industry.
The recent selection of CFM International’s LEAP-X1C engine to power the 150- to 190-seat C919 airliner family being developed by Commercial Aircraft of Corp. of China (Comac) marks the start of one of the most significant aerospace collaborations between China and the West.
The start of a new year usually stimulates positive resolve, with which Boeing and Airbus might summarize their intentions for 2010 in three words: “Must do better.” Both companies face near- and long-term product-development challenges, as well as opportunities.
By the time the three examples of the Comac ARJ21 regional jet had accumulated some 220 flight hours by the middle of this month, China had proven that it could assemble and fly an indigenous airplane derived from a Western design. But the country’s aspirations to become a global aerospace power will demand more than an ability to adapt already mature Western technology to programs meant almost solely for domestic consumption.