The engine CFM International will provide to power the Comac C919 will be designated the LEAP-X1C.
But there’s more to the deal than providing the GE/Snecma joint venture a launch customer for the LEAP-X. The company also says it will set up an engine final assembly line in China, in partnership with AVIC Commercial Aircraft Engine Company. An engine test facility also is being placed in the country.
CFM will provide more than just the engine. Comac, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China, has asked for a total propulsion system, so Nexcelle will provide the nacelle as part of the package. Like CFM International, Nexcelle is a joint venture between GE and Safran (the Snecma parent).
The deals were finalized today in Beijing, where top company executives were joined by French and Chinese prime ministers Francois Fillon and Wen Jiabao.
First flight of the C919 is planned for 2014, with entry into service to follow in 2016.
The deal gives CFM International an important foundation for its LEAP-X program, but also a strong role in China. Since the country is expected to eventually move to building its own aircraft engines, engine makers are now positioning themselves to be key partners once that effort gathers steam.
With the C919 decision, and Pratt's involvement on the CSeries, Mitsubishi Regional Jet, and Russian MC-2, the question becomes: what's left for Rolls-Royce?