A new-generation engine for China’s C919 jetliner

At the end of 2009 Chinese aircraft manufacturer Comac selected an engine from Safran to power its new single-aisle commercial jet, the C919. We take a closer look at this major partnership.

Safran will supply the complete propulsion system for China's first commercial jetliner, in a contract that could be worth up to $15 billion over a period of 30 years. The contract also includes engine support services, which account for more than half of the total amount.

New-generation engine

The Chinese manufacturer is building a latest-generation jetliner, featuring state-of-the-art technologies. To power its airplane, Comac chose the new Leap-X engine, developed Safran along with its legacy partner General Electric, a choice that fully reflects this approach. For example, the use of new composite materials and innovative production processes will help reduce the engine's fuel consumption by 10 to 15%, while also reducing noise and emissions of nitrogen oxides. The engine nacelle is lighter and more streamlined, which means that it also contributes to this improved performance.

First flight slated for 2014

The C919 is a single-aisle commercial jet carrying 150 to 200 passengers, placing it in the same category as the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. China expects to build about 2,000 of these aircraft, out of a total market over the next 20 years estimated at 20,000 aircraft. Today, a Chinese citizen takes an airplane once every 30 years on average, versus once a year for a European: in other words, the Chinese market harbors tremendous growth potential. In 20 years China will account for some 20% of the world's aviation market. So it was essential for the Safran group to firmly anchor its long-term presence in the country.