France’s Safran and China’s AVIC Expected To Advance Turboprop Work

Posted: November 11, 2014 in Technology and Energy

SOURCE: http://aviationweek.com/zhuhai-2014/safran-avic-expected-advance-turboprop-work

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Safran, Avic Expected To Advance Turboprop Work

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French aerospace manufacturer Safran and Avic are likely to advance their proposed collaborative program for turboprop engine parts at Airshow China, to be held in Zhuhai Nov. 11-16.

The project, subject to a memorandum of understanding signed in March, will probably proceed to a framework agreement at the show, says the China Daily.

The project is to be a 50:50 partnership that will research, design and make core components for civil turbine engines in China, it says. This is evidently the same project covered by a memorandum of agreement signed in July, involving joint production of turboprop power turbines and flame tubes. Avic said in July that an enterprise that it and Safran unit Snecma would equally own in China would develop and manufacture parts to supply to the two parents companies.

The specific Avic unit is Avic South Aviation Industry of Zhuzhou, Hunan. Avic South is developing at least two turboprops, one of 5,000 kW (6,700 hp.) output and one of 2,000 kW. The China Aviation Powerplant Research Institute will also be involved in the project with Snecma.

Avic and Safran’s Turbomeca already work together on helicopter engines; certification is expected by the end of 2015 for their new Ardiden 3C engine, called WZ-16 by the Chinese. That engine is under development for the AC352 helicopter, itself a joint product of Airbus Helicopters and Avicopter.

A key issue will be the extent of transfer of dual-use technology in Snecma’s program. China is weak in aeronautical gas turbines, a condition that the U.S. and its allies are not eager to see change. Partly for that reason, major Western engine companies have largely refused to help Avic in developing its CJ-1000 high-bypass turbofan proposed for the Comac C919 158-seat airliner.

Like almost any foreign company supplying knowhow to Chinese industry, Safran can expect better access to the Chinese market in return for cooperating with Avic.

The specific engines that will use the products of the joint company are unknown. Similarly, it is unclear which airframe Avic has in mind for new or improved engines from the program. Avic’s most modern civil aircraft use Western engines, but its military aircraft must rely on domestic, Russian and Ukrainian powerplants.

Avic is developing a 78-seat turboprop airliner, the MA700. It has selected the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW150C for that aircraft.

-Leithen France, John Morris, Bradley Perrett, perrett@aviationweek.com

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