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Russia’s Rostec proposes collaborative long-haul aero engine development with China

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By Charles F. Moreira, Editor

Following the successful maiden flights of China’s COMAC C919 and Russia’s Irkut MC21 in May 2017, Russia’s state-owned industrial giant Rostec proposed joint collaboration with China on the development of aero engines for long-haul passenger airliners, based upon the Russian-made PD-14 high-bypass turbofan engine developed for the MC21, Russia Today reported on 16 June 2017.

Speaking to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti on the sidelines of the IV Russian-Chinese Expo in Harbin, China, Rostec spokesman Viktor Kladov said his company hopes that a prototype of the proposed engine will be ready by 2020.

As Russia, China and India respectively develop their indigenous high-technology industries, including aerospace, they aim to lessen their dependence on imported components such as aero engines, so are working on developing their own, which hopefully will be cheaper and will save them on foreign exchange. An airliner’s engine can cost as much as US$35 million apiece and with a twin-engined Boeing 777-300ER list-priced at US$320.2 million for example, the US$70 for the two engines can account for 21.8% or more of an airliner’s price.

The COMAC C919 which made its maiden flight on 5 May 2017 was powered by LEAP engines from US-France joint venture CFM International, whilst the Irkut MC21 which made its maiden flight on 28 May 2017 was powered by US-made Pratt & Whitney’s PW1400G engines. However, versions of the MC21 for Russia’s domestic market, such as the 50 aircraft ordered by Russian airline Aeroflot, will be powered by Russian-made PD-14 engines, which are also an option for foreign customers as well, and the PD-14 has already received interest from India.

A fifth-generation turbofan engine, the PD-14 is said to meet or surpass international standards for noise levels and emissions, its specific fuel consumption is up to 15 lower than its countertypes, its modular design with a common core enables different variants to be built to suit different sized aircraft and purposes, and it’s also designed to be easily and quickly serviced and maintained, which in turn reduces turnaround time and maintenance costs.

The PD-14 is Russia’s first civil aero engine developed since the collapse of the Soviet Union. It has received the personal support and endorsement of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin who regards it as an important national initiative. Putin has also pledged state support and assistance for the PD-14’s development.

Such developments will help in the rise of these Eurasian nations as economic, industrial and technological powers which can challenge the present dominance of North America and Western Europe.

Video courtesy of United Engine Corporation and Aviadvigatel

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