China has established a State-owned conglomerate to develop aircraft engines, a move that experts say will extensively boost the country's aviation industry.
The State Council appointed Cao Jianguo, 52,
Li Fangyong, 53, formerly deputy general manager of Aviation Industry Corp of China, has been appointed general manager of the new company, according to a statement released on Thursday by AVIC, China's largest manufacturer of aircraft.
At least three aviation engine companies under AVIC — Sichuan Chengfa Aero Science and Technology, AVIC Aviation Engine Corp and AVIC Aero-Engine Controls — will be merged into the Aircraft Engine Corp of China, according to the announcement. All three are listed companies.
Chinese media reported that more than 40 State-owned companies and institutes involved in developing aircraft engines will form the conglomerate. They reportedly have assets worth more than 100 billion yuan ($15.3 billion).
Although China has become a strong player in terms of industrial research and manufacturing, it is still weaker when compared with other world powers on aviation technologies and capabilities.
Most of the advanced planes developed by China, including the C919 narrow-body jetliner and J-20 stealth fighter jet, will have to use imported engines unless the nation can produce reliable ones by the time they enter mass-production.
Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said the new company will accelerate the development of engines that are badly needed by new-generation military planes such as the J-20. It will also reduce China's heavy reliance on imported engines for its civilian aircraft such as the C919 and ARJ-21.
"The move will concentrate and integrate the country's aircraft engine development resources and professionals, improve research efficiency and help attract investment," he said.
Tao Zhi, vice-president of Beihang University in Beijing, said separating the engine sector from AVIC and setting up a new company will give more space and freedom to engine designers and unleash the sector's potential.