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Partnership formed for C919 plane
Published on: 2011-06-29
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The Commercial Aircraft Corp of China Ltd (COMAC), which is undertaking the construction of large domestic passenger jets, began its first joint venture on Tuesday with a foreign company in the hope of using world-class manufacturing techniques in the production of the homegrown C919 airplane.

The partnership between the Shanghai Aircraft Manufacturing Co Ltd (SAMC), a subsidiary of COMAC, and the United States-based Eaton Corp, a company specializing in systems used to control and distribute energy, is among 17 strategic agreements COMAC has reached with various aviation companies.

The Eaton SAMC (Shanghai) Aircraft Conveyance System Co Ltd will be situated in the Shanghai Pudong Lujiazui Software Park and will concentrate on the design, development and manufacture of the fuel and hydraulic conveyance systems needed for COMAC's production of the C919, said Lu Xiao'an, the director of the new venture.

The conveyance system will transport fuel through a network of pipes running throughout the plane. The design of the system will thus have a direct effect on an aircraft's performance.

Craig Arnold, vice-chairman and chief operating officer of Eaton, said the official opening of the joint venture is an important addition to the international cooperation taking place on the C919 project.

"We are greatly honored to be a part of this important project and to be a part of the growing aviation industry in China," Arnold said. "Together we will utilize the best civil aviation technology, world-class manufacturing capabilities, and proven management practices to create a globally competitive company."

Eaton has a long history of supplying fuel and hydraulic conveyance systems and currently collaborates with Boeing, Airbus and other aircraft manufacturers.

SAMC will be the controlling party of the new venture, holding 51 percent of the shares. The remaining 49 percent will go to Eaton, and the amount of registered capital in the venture will total $18 million.

According to Jin Zhuanglong, general manager of COMAC, the venture was granted a business license in March and is dedicated to developing techniques required for designing and building conveyance systems for the global civil aviation market.

The design stage of the C919, which will be the first Chinese-made trunk-line passenger aircraft, will be completed by the end of next year and the aircraft will make its maiden flight in late 2014 before being delivered to buyers in 2016.

So far, COMAC has received more than 100 orders for the C919, said Jin.

Once in service, the C919, the equivalent of the Boeing 737 and the Airbus 320, is expected to lessen the country's dependence on foreign aircraft manufacturers.

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