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Russia proposes joint work with China on aircraft engines

Proposal aimed at developing engine for Chinese C919 regional aircraft

Russia has proposed to China that China join Russia in developing the new PD-14 family of engines, of which the PD-14 will power Russia’s new regional airliner the MC-21 and the larger and more powerful PD-18R will power the updated IL-96 civil airliner and the new IL-106 heavy transport.

The Russian proposal seems to be pitched at persuading China to adopt the PD-14 or a related engine for its new regional airliner the Comac C919, an aircraft in the same class as the MC-21 but which uses Western engines.

The Chinese are providing funding for the new Russian big engine the PD-30, which is being developed to power the new joint Russian-Chinese wide-bodied aircraft.

It is likely that the Chinese are actually involved in development of the PD-30, which uses technology drawn from the NK32 engines used by Russia’s TU-160 and TU-22M3 supersonic bombers.

China joining the PD-14 programme would finally unite the Russian and Chinese civil aviation programmes, meaning that the two countries would be sharing technology and engines for all their civil aircraft.  It would also provide the Chinese with access to Russian gas turbine aircraft engine technology, an area where China has been historically deficient.

The Chinese must be tempted by this offer.  It will be interesting to see whether they accept it, in which case Russian-Chinese industrial cooperation will take a major step forward.

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