French aerospace conglomerate Safran and its partner GE Aviation have decided to give more manufacturing work to China, a move that comes as China is poised to decide which western engines will power the country's new narrowbody aircraft.
At the Aviation Expo China in Beijing, the Safran-GE engine nacelle technology company Nexcelle signed a framework agreement with AVIC Aircraft.
Under the agreement Nexcelle and AVIC Aircraft will establish a joint-venture in China that will design and manufacture nacelles for current aircraft types and new aircraft in development.
Nexcelle itself is a new company. Its name was only announced by Safran and GE on 21 September.
Safran also signed at the show a framework agreement with AVIC Aircraft to collaborate on the design, production, assembly and support of nacelles and landing gears.
This agreement "includes the planned establishment of new facilities in China based on the partners' existing assets," says Safran.
"This means the partners will be able to submit competitive proposals" for the C919.
Safran's Messier-Dowty and Messier-Bugatti, along with three AVIC companies, have put in a joint proposal to Comac for landing gear and break systems on the C919, it adds.
At the Nexcelle and Safran press conference at the show, there was GE Aviation president and CEO Lorraine Bolsinger, Safran CEO Jean-Paul Herteman and AVIC group president Lin Zuoming.
Herteman told the audience of VIPs, which included senior officials at Comac, that "I hope we can work together on the C919 project."
Bolsinger at GE also said the aim is for Nexcelle's China joint-venture to produce nacelles for western aircraft and later on the C919.
Comac VP and C919 chief designer Wu Guanghui also addressed the audience and said Comac has "received proposals from engine suppliers including that of Safran" and that Comac's chairman visited Safran in France earlier this year.
For the C919, Safran is teaming up with GE under the CFM International banner and proposing the CFM Leap-X engine.
Comac aims to have first flight of the C919 in 2014 and entry into service in 2016.