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China lists commercial engine development as priority

China has set a target to complete the development of a commercial powerplant within a 10-year period, says the chairman of an advisory committee on the Comac C919 aircraft programme.

Speaking recently on the medium- to long-term plans for China's aviation industry, Zhang Yanzhong said that the country has identified jet engine development as one of its priorities.

"This project is significant for the development of China's aviation industry," says Zhang.

He adds: "Currently Chinese-made aircraft are all using foreign engines. For a period of time, it will be hard for a domestic engine to achieve international standards, this is a reality we have to face."

In his speech, Zhang also said that China's aviation industry has a weak foundation because it lacks resources, infrastructure and experience. He also reiterated that the first flight of the C919 narrowbody programme has been delayed to end-2015, a push back from its original 2014 schedule.

Last year, China said that it planned to invest yuan (CNY) 10 billion ($1.63 billion) into research and development for commercial aircraft engines. This is to allow the country to catch up to international standards and reduce its reliance on foreign powerplants.

The programme will be undertaken by AVIC Aviation Engine Holding, a subsidiary of state-owned aircraft manufacturer AVIC that focuses on the development of powerplants for military aircraft.

The in-development C919 will be powered by CFM International's Leap-1C engine, while the ARJ21 regional jet uses the General Electric CF34-10A engines, and the in-service Xian MA60 has two Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127J turboprops.

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