The US government has reapproved GE Aviation’s application to supply engines for Comac’s C919 narrowbody programme, months after it mulled blocking engine sales.
The enginemaker states the licence to supply CFM International Leap-1C engines will last for a term of four years. It did not indicate when the application was approved.
“We are pleased that the [US] administration has come to this decision, and look to continue to serve our customers in China and beyond,” the company adds.
CFM is a joint venture between GE and France’s Safran. In mid-February, media reports emerged that the US government was considering blocking the sale of the Leap-1C engine to China, with additional export limits on other systems, such as Honeywell flight-control systems.
However, US president Donald Trump waded into the debate a day later, tweeting that he wanted “China to buy our jet engines, the best in the world”. He also blasted proposals that would make it difficult to sell engines and other components into the Chinese market.
Apart from powering the C919, other variants of the Leap are also an option for the Airbus A320neo, and the exclusive powerplant for the grounded Boeing 737 Max.
GE has obtained export licences from the US government for the Leap-1C engines since 2014, having most recently received one in March 2019.
Comac has six C919 test aircraft flying, all fitted with the Leap-1C. It has more than 300 Leap-powered aircraft in its order book. Comac is looking at a 2021-2022 date for the C919’s service entry.
Other than CFM engines, the C919 will also be fitted with Chinese-made powerplants.
Progress on the developmental CJ-1000AX high-bypass turbofan, manufactured by AECC Commercial Aircraft Engine, is still unclear. It was reported in 2018 that the CJ-1000AX demonstrator engine achieved power-on. Chinese media reports indicate the CJ-1000AX is looking to enter service in 2021.