MTU Aero Engines will likely become a partner in a planned AVIC Commercial Aircraft Engine (ACAE) programme to build an alternative powerplant for the Comac C919 narrowbody.
The German engine subassembly manufacturer and maintenance provider and AVIC's Shanghai-based engine subsidiary have inked an agreement for a "possible co-operation" on a future powerplant for the C919, which has been called the CJ-1000A.
As a first step, the two companies want to conduct a feasibility study into how the medium-thrust engine can be built in China. The engine will produce thrust of up to 44,000lb (196kN). It is targeting entry into service for 2020.
The CJ-1000A's generous production timeframe for the engine's development is likely due to the nascent state of China's jet engine design and production capabilities.
This pre-development study, due to be finalised in November, will determine the engine's basic structure and parameters, said MTU. It will involve economic evaluations and look at additional partnerships for the programme.
While the C919 will initially be equipped with CFM International Leap-1XC engines, the Chinese engine is expected to follow at a later stage. First flight for the C919 is scheduled for 2014, with entry into service due to follow two years later.
When ACAE was set up in 2009, the company said that the Chinese engine would be available in 2016. Aside from being an alternative engine for the C919, AVIC hopes to market the CJ-1000A for use on jets in overseas markets.
MTU has a 50/50 joint venture overhaul shop with China Southern Airlines for CFM International CFM56 and International Aero Engines V2500 powerplants in Zhuhai.
Additional reporting by Greg Waldron in Beijing