New air­craft en­gine firm to lift sec­tor

Xi hails es­tab­lish­ment of com­pany, say­ing it will fur­ther mod­ern­ize industry, mil­i­tary

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By ZHAO LEI in Bei­jing zhaolei@chi­

Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping called on Sun­day for ac­cel­er­a­tion of the re­search, de­vel­op­ment and man­u­fac­tur­ing of air­craft en­gines and gas tur­bines to help China to build a strong avi­a­tion industry.

His words came af­ter the Aero En­gine Corp of China was es­tab­lished in Bei­jing. Pre­vi­ously, all of the coun­try’s air­craft en­gines were de­vel­oped and made by Avi­a­tion Industry Corp of China.

Set­ting up the new com­pany is a strate­gic move that will im­prove the avi­a­tion industry and boost the mod­ern­iza­tion of the Chi­nese mil­i­tary, Xi said in a writ­ten in­struc­tion that was read at the com­pany’s es­tab­lish­ment cer­e­mony in Bei­jing on Sun­day morn­ing.

Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang said in his writ­ten in­struc­tion that en­gi­neers at the com­pany should learn from other na­tions’ ex­pe­ri­ence and fo­cus on key tech­nolo­gies for air­craft en­gines.

Head­quar­tered in Bei­jing, the AECC has been set up with in­vest­ment from the State Coun­cil, the Bei­jing mu­nic­i­pal govern­ment, Avi­a­tion Industry Corp of China and Com­mer­cial Air­craft Corp of China. It has a reg­is­tered cap­i­tal of 50 bil­lion yuan ($7.5 bil­lion) and 96,000 em­ploy­ees, in­clud­ing six aca­demics from the Chi­nese Academy of Sci­ences and Chi­nese Academy of En­gi­neer­ing, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

Cao Jian­guo, 53, former gen­eral man­ager of China Aero­space Sci­ence and Industry Corp, is the AECC chair­man. The com­pany’s gen­eral man­ager is Li Fangy­ong, also 53, former deputy gen­eral man­ager at Avi­a­tion Industry Corp of China.

De­spite China hav­ing made tremen­dous achieve­ments in sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy and man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­tries, air­craft en­gines re­main one of the few fields in which the coun­try still lags largely be­hind top play­ers, es­pe­cially the United States.

Be­cause ad­vanced air­craft en­gines such as the af­ter burn­ing tur­bo­fan, which pro­pels the world’s best com­bat planes in­clud­ing the US’ Lock­heed Martin F-22 and Rus­sia’s Sukhoi Su-35, are so so­phis­ti­cated, only the five mem­bers of the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil are able to de­velop and pro­duce them.

Ac­cord­ing to mil­i­tary sources, most of the Peo­ple’s Lib­er­a­tion Army Air Force’s best air­craft, such as the J-10 fighter jet and Y-20 trans­port plane, rely heav­ily on en­gines im­ported from Rus­sia, while the new-gen­er­a­tion J-20 stealth fighter jet also used Rus­sian-made en­gines for its test flight.

In the Made in China 2025 blue­print pub­lished by the cen­tral govern­ment last year, air­craft en­gines were listed as one of the 10 cru­cial man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tors that are of great im­por­tance to the na­tion and would be strongly sup­ported by the govern­ment.

Thanks to ef­forts made by Chi­nese re­searchers in the past 10 years, a num­ber of do­mes­ti­cally de­vel­oped en­gines such as the WS-10 “Tai­hang” tur­bo­fan have been in­tro­duced and in­stalled on some J-10 and J-11 fighter jets, ob­servers said.

They added that a cer­tain pe­riod of time will be needed to see whether they are re­li­able and pow­er­ful enough to re­place the im­ported ones.

Yin Zey­ong, a mem­ber of the Chi­nese Academy of En­gi­neer­ing and head of AECC’s sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy com­mis­sion, said the com­pany’s found­ing in­di­cates that China is de­ter­mined to mo­bi­lize all re­sources needed to re­search and de­velop key air­craft en­gine tech­nolo­gies.

Wang Ya’nan, edi­tor-inchief of Aero­space Knowl­edge mag­a­zine, said, “The es­tab­lish­ment of an air­craft en­gine firm will strengthen China’s ca­pa­bil­ity in the avi­a­tion field and im­prove ef­fi­ciency in re­search and de­vel­op­ment.”

More par­tic­i­pa­tion from the pri­vate sec­tor should be en­cour­aged in the air­craft en­gine industry to bol­ster com­pe­ti­tion, he added.

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