GE says its integrated avionics joint venture with China's AVIC is on track to gain final approval by the Chinese government by year's end as the two companies accelerate staffing and readying facilities in Shanghai. The two agreed to form the GE-AVIC Avionics Systems Company in 2009 and were selected in 2010 to provide the integrated avionics system for the Comac C919 airliner, slated for entry into service (EIS) in 2016. The JV is nearing completion of the joint definition phase for the avionics this summer.

The JV however has much more grandiose plans beyond the C919, including taking on legacy avionics suppliers like Honeywell, Rockwell Collins and Thales.

Lorraine Bolsinger, president of GE Aviation Systems, says the joint venture's global centre of integrated avionics in Shanghai will be the focal point for all integrated avionics offerings for "all platforms for anyone that is interested in more than a one-off subsystem" for commercial applications in the future.

While the engineering support for the avionics venture by year's end is to be split fairly evenly between West and East - 300 engineers and programme managers at GE's Clearwater, Florida and Grand Rapids, Michigan locations; 100 in its Cheltenham, UK facility and 300 in Shanghai -- Bolsinger says ultimately the plan is to have about 90% of the engineers in China for the integrated avionics systems.

To meet its ramp up for this year, the JV plans to hire another 200-250 engineers in China by year's end, many with engineering experience on other AVIC programmes, says Bolsinger. She says the avionics JV is targeting some business jet OEMs for potential upcoming programmes, but that the "big payload for us" would be a position on the next Airbus or Boeing product.

Source: Flight Daily News