Teamwork at its best: Nexcelle uses parent company resources in China for C919 jetliner nacelle integration
October 5, 2016
Nexcelle benefits from the capabilities of its two parent companies – Safran Nacelles and GE Aviation’s Middle River Aircraft Systems – which was aptly demonstrated with a rapid integration task performed on the joint venture’s engine nacelles for China’s COMAC C919 jetliner.
This activity involved the fitting of air inlets and other components on two CFM International LEAP-1C engines for COMAC’s no. 1 C919 aircraft (currently being prepared for its maiden flight), with technicians from Safran Nacelles’ Chinese affiliate – Xian SAVI Nacelles – called in to accomplish the operation.
Integration of the inlet and other components was carried out last month in Shanghai, the home to COMAC’s C919 final assembly line, and where Nexcelle has a full-time engineering and support staff.
Using skilled in-country resources
“We routinely have had personnel come to Shanghai from Safran Nacelles in France and Middle River Aircraft Systems in the U.S. for nacelle integration work, which can take weeks to organize,” explained Manuel Rodriguez Arenas, the Nexcelle On-Site Nacelle Architect and Integration Leader in Shanghai.
Coming from the Chinese inland city of Xi’an, the personnel from Xian SAVI Nacelles were on-site two days later to begin the work, which was carried out efficiently and professionally.
“As this latest installation of the engine inlet and other components required a rapid turn-around, we were able to use the skilled resources from Xian SAVI Nacelles, located only two hours away via commercial air travel.”
Building on Xian SAVI Nacelles’ current capabilities
Xian SAVI Nacelles is a joint venture inaugurated in 2011 by Safran Nacelles and AVIC Aircraft Co. Ltd. as a long-term industrial partnership to produce and assemble jet engine nacelle components. It currently has an assembly line in Xi’an that builds thrust reverser blocker doors for CFM International CFM56 engines powering Airbus A320 family jetliners, continuing the output of these components that have been a mainstay of Safran Nacelles’ production portfolio during the past 30 years.
The Xi’an operation has been very successful since its creation, already producing several thousand CFM56 thrust reverser blocker doors, thereby positioning Xian SAVI Nacelles for additional work packages in the future – including the production of components for Nexcelle’s nacelles on the C919.
To handle the C919 nacelle inlet integration last month at Shanghai, the team from Xi’an was composed of Assembly Line Manager Ma XiengRu and two operators: Cao Li and Hu RenMin. They worked with Liu Muyuan, who is Nexcelle’s on-site Engine Integration Activities Leader at Shanghai; and technical assistance was provided by Xing Xiaoxia and Zhou Quan from the Shanghai on-site team of Nexcelle’s GE Aviation Middle River Aircraft Systems parent company.
“A win-win situation for everyone”
“This was truly a win-win situation for everyone, beginning with Nexcelle’s demonstration of quick-response capabilities for nacelle-related integration requests that come from COMAC and CFM International – which will increase in the future as the C919 program enters the flight test phase and moves into production,” Rodriguez Arenas said.
He added that for Xian SAVI Nacelles, it was an excellent hands-on experience with a nacelle system on which the company expects to be producing hardware in the future.
Additionally, the action demonstrates the capability of Nexcelle’s parent companies to rely on its qualified teams around the world – particularly in countries where hardware and manpower are difficult to put in place from abroad.
Nexcelle’s Shanghai team continues its key coordination role
Rodriguez Arenas concluded that Nexcelle’s own on-site team at Shanghai – composed primarily of engineers – continues to have important responsibilities for the C919 program, ensuring a close working relationship with COMAC as the aircraft manufacturer and CFM International as the LEAP-1C’s engine manufacturer. It will be increasingly active as the program transitions to the industrial phase in support of C919 flight testing and the jetliner’s entry into service.
For its supplier role on the C919 jetliner, Nexcelle provides the highly capable nacelle, thrust reverser and exhaust system as a partner on the LEAP-1C engine, which is one of the world’s first truly integrated propulsion systems.