Nexcelle’s nacelle team in Shanghai is reinforced as the C919 jetliner nears its first flight
May 1, 2017
The Nexcelle team assigned by its parent companies for the C919 jetliner program in Shanghai, China has been reinforced, preparing for the flight testing and industrialization of this twin-engine jetliner – which is equipped with the joint venture’s innovative nacelle system.
As part of the team’s enhancement, new responsibilities have been allocated to the Chinese nationals working and supporting the Nexcelle nacelle system at Shanghai, acknowledging their performance during the past seven years.
“Based on the team’s significant program contributions, we are now giving industrial and technical leadership duties to our Chinese colleagues here in Shanghai,” explained Manuel Rodriguez Arenas, who is Nexcelle’s C919 Program Manager at Shanghai.
The on-site team assigned to the C919 nacelle system by Nexcelle’s parent companies – Safran Nacelles, headquartered in France; and GE Aviation’s Middle River Aircraft Systems based in the U.S. – is being increased to eight, a step that is timed with the first C919’s imminent startup of flight test activities.
“We have a group of young and very motivated Chinese here at Shanghai, with many of them having worked for numerous years on the C919 program and gaining hands-on experience,” explained Rodriguez Arenas. “They will help us continue the C919 adventure and will be ready for other aviation projects in the future.”
China’s twin-engine C919 is the country’s newest jetliner, created by the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), and assembled at Shanghai. This short/medium-range aircraft is sized to accommodate 168 passengers in an all-economy layout or 156 in a two-cabin arrangement.
The C919’s nacelle system was developed in the Nexcelle joint venture to equip the aircraft’s two LEAP-1C turbofan engines, forming a new generation integrated propulsion system. The LEAP-1C powerplant itself is the product of another collaborative venture: CFM International, the successful 50/50 joint company of GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines.
The C919’s nacelle design incorporates a new O-Duct thrust reverser concept pioneered by Safran Nacelles. Advantages of the O-Duct design includes reduced weight, increased thrust reverser efficiency, and improved maintenance for the nacelle system and the overall LEAP-1C propulsion system, Rodriguez Arenas said both CFM International and COMAC have acknowledged the commitment of Nexcelle and its on-site Shanghai team during completion of the no. 1 C919 and the preparations for its imminent first takeoff.
“In particular, our Chinese employees have responded whenever called upon,” he said. “As one recent example, three team members cancelled family plans during the all-important Chinese New Year holiday in January to remain at Shanghai for pre-flight preparations. And last month, our personnel worked from Friday through Sunday to complete a critical task on the O-Duct system.”
Rodriguez Arenas also highlighted the involvement of both the U.S. and France home teams, who maintain a close collaboration with their Chinese colleagues, regardless of the time zone differences.
He noted the C919’s O-Duct thrust reverser has demonstrated its capabilities during the jetliner’s aircraft’s recent ground runs at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport. These taxi trials culminated in a high-speed test in April, when the aircraft’s nosewheel raised from the runway for the first time – followed by the O-Duct thrust reverser’s deployment for the aircraft’s deceleration.
“The C919 was approved for its maiden flight after the high-speed test, and the COMAC pilots expressed their satisfaction with the O-Duct’s performance,” Rodriguez Arenas added.