Harbin Embraer Aircraft Industry has decided to rely exclusively on US-manufactured Rolls-Royce AE3007 turbofans as the new Chinese joint venture company prepares to begin regional jet manufacturing in July.

Moving some AE3007 work from R-R's Indianapolis plant to China had been considered after the joint venture ERJ-145 family programme was launched last year. But joint venture vice chairman Guan Dongyuan says "at this moment" transferring engine work to China "is not the idea".

"Our understanding is we'll see engines directly from Indianapolis," adds Dongyuan, who also acts as Embraer's chief representative in China.

R-R's customer business director for China, Mike Curtis, says Embraer has not contacted R-R to discuss AE3007 manufacturing in China although R-R looked last year at scenarios for transferring some work from the USA. R-R remains open to manufacturing some of the engine in China at a later date.

Both Curtis and Dongyuan say the programme is on schedule for roll-out of the first Chinese ERJ-145 in December, with Indianapolis-manufactured AE3007s. A launch customer is still being sought and Dongyuan says this effort has not yet been impacted by the downturn caused by the SARS virus.

The joint venture company is training 150 employees to staff its facility in Harbin in north-east China. Tooling and aircraft components have begun to arrive and assembly of the first aircraft is due to begin in July. Harbin can assemble up to two ERJs per month, but production plans for 2004 hinge on the sales effort. Embraer owns 51% of the venture and AVIC I subsidiaries Harbin Aircraft Industry and Hafei Aviation Industry own the remaining 49%.

The joint venture's board of directors has appointed Embraer engineer Ramon Serroni as general manager. He will relocate from Brazil to Harbin later this year. Embraer will also transfer some of its test pilots to Harbin late this year to make sure the first aircraft are ready for delivery.

Source: Flight International