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Honeywell takes to skies with COMAC

By Li Xiang in Paris | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-19 07:42

Honeywell Aerospace, the United States-based aviation parts maker and a major supplier to China's domestic commercial aircraft, the C919, is upbeat about the much-anticipated jet's maiden flight in 2015, a senior executive of the company said.

"We are on schedule" with the Commercial Aircraft Corp of China's plan for the first flight, John Bolton, president of the air transport and regional strategic business division at Honeywell Aerospace, told China Daily during the Paris Air Show, which opened on Monday.

"Our products continue to progress and mature. And we are looking forward to a successful first flight in 2015," he said.

Earlier reports said that COMAC might miss its target to fly its C919 158-seat narrow-body aircraft in 2014, and the date of the first flight had been delayed to the second quarter of 2015.

Bolton said that Honeywell has completed the C919's first auxiliary power unit for testing and the company is fully aligned with COMAC's schedule.

At the air show, COMAC declined to reveal its target date for the first flight but said that the C919 project has fully moved into the engineering development stage, even as detailed design work proceeds.

"Currently, COMAC is in the process of carrying out key technology breakthroughs while critical review of the design is continuing," the company said in a statement.

Honeywell has supplied four major flight systems for the C919: the APU, flight controls, the wheel and brake systems and the inertial reference system that provides precision location data.

The US-based company has also been vying to supply its electric taxiing system, jointly developed with French aircraft and rocket engine producer Safran SA.

The product, which is being demonstrated at the Paris Air Show, will enable aircraft to taxi under electrical power while the main engines remain off. The product is aimed at improving airline operating efficiency and cutting fuel consumption.

Apart from its partnership with COMAC, Honeywell has been seeking greater collaboration with other Chinese airplane manufacturers to capitalize on burgeoning demand in the Chinese aviation industry.

The company is exploring an APU solution known as the RE220 for MA700, a regional aircraft manufactured by the Aviation Industry Corp of China, according to Bolton.

He added that the company is also looking at business jet engines for potential collaboration with AVIC.

Earlier this year, Honeywell Aerospace and AVIC Aviation Engine Holding Co Ltd signed an agreement to establish a strategic partnership for engine programs in the Chinese general and business aviation industry.

"We continue to look for programs that have strong market interest and where the excellent technical capability of AVIC engines in combination with Honeywell can bring differentiated products to the market," Bolton said.

Honeywell has shifted its business focus in China from supporting Chinese airlines to domestic production and engineering development, as China is expected to join the US and Europe as the third pillar of the global aviation industry.

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