Honeywell eyes avionics deals for Sino-Russian wide-bodied jet
Honeywell Aerospace, the global manufacturer of aircraft engines and avionics, is eyeing major deals from the development of China’s first long-haul, wide-bodied jet, ahead of the imminent maiden flight of the Comac C919 next month, the smaller domestic passenger being developed to carry 175 people.
Steven Lien, president of Honeywell Aerospace in Asia-Pacific, told the South China Morning Post that the US firm is already in discussions with the Sino-Russian joint venture co-developing the country’s first wide-bodied jet.
State-owned Commercial Aircraft Corp of China (Comac) and its Russian counterpart United Aircraft Corp (UAC) set up a 50-50 joint venture last year to develop the long-haul passenger plane, following Comac’s eight-year effort to assemble the C919, which is targeted at challenging the single-aisle Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.
The wide-body jet project being developed by Comac and UAC was announced in 2014, with the companies earmarking a maiden flight in 2022, with deliveries beginning as early as 2025.
Last November, a mock-up of the jet was displayed by the Chinese and Russian aircraft makers at the annual Zhuhai Airshow.
Honeywell Aerospace has four joint-venture companies and one wholly-owned facility in China.
Its Asia-Pacific headquarters was relocated from Singapore to Shanghai in 2007.
It started discussions with UAC and Comac late last year, as the China-Russia jet manufacturers began the hunt for suppliers.
“We are very excited about participating in the project,” Lien said. “We are looking to discuss what else we can do to help proceed with the wide-bodied jet’s development.”
US industrial giant General Electric struck a deal with Comac in 2010 to supply key parts of the avionics system for the C919.
Avionics refers to the central information system, known as the backbone of an aeroplane’s network, and the electronics related to its navigation and communication systems.
Honeywell was selected to provide four systems for the C919: its auxiliary power system, wheels and brakes, flight controls, and navigation.
The supply deals are worth a total of between US$15 and US$16 billion through the life of the aircraft’s development programme, according to Lien.
The C919 represents the mainland’s lofty ambitions in the global aviation market, and is expected to make its maiden flight this month, three-years later than planned.
“The C919 will be a great addition to many of airlines’ fleets,” said Lien, adding the jet will make Comac a true aircraft OEM (original equipment manufacturer) after the first delivery of its ARJ-21, a regional jet manufactured by the Shanghai-based plane-maker, in late 2015.
The C919 has received 570 orders and commitments from 23 customers, mainly state-owned air carriers and leasing companies.