The U.S. weighs blocking GE engine sales for China's new airplane. What do you think is going on and what will happen?



Jack Wilson

It's always interesting to see the answers to questions from people that have no working relationship or experience in the fields they are writing about and add a political shot about Trump which is not even a part of what is going on. That being said, GE is not the only one withholding technology in the marketplace. If you owned a company that produced a product that was very popular, would you sell or give that product to someone who could copy and build a version of the product and put you out of business. If you would, you wouldn't be in business very long. In manufacturing, sooner or later, all your competitors will have your technology and that is business these days and patents cost money to draw up and enforce. Sometimes you hope to have enough sales from the product to cover the initial investment of developing, design, testing, and other costs incurred in building the product before your competitors have a share of the market. That temporary “lion's share” of the market is hoped to last long enough to recover the original investment and make enough profit to move on to development of other projects. Good business is based on sound decisions and not political ones. While I was working at General Dynamics, we sold a stripped down version of the F-16 to Israel. Upon delivery of the new aircraft, they were gutted and rebuilt by Israeli technicians. The end result was an aircraft that was superior in many ways to our version we sold to the United States. We knew that this procedure was happening and withheld the “brain" section and most of cockpit. Nobody said a word about this in all the years it has gone on and never made it political in any form. I think people need to study more about business practices in order to discern between political and business decisions. This was a business decision.



Jean-Yves Landry, IT Security Architect, IT Technology Architect (1980-present)

USA is a funny country under Trump. Trump want China to purchase more from USA to help give some equilibrium to the commercial balance. But he put restriction on anything a little HIGH TECH.


He and Boeing are very scare that the C919 will come to concurrence the antiquated BOEING 737. So, they will try to slow their progress by forbidding Honeywell and GE to sales their stuff to China.


Boeing did not learn when the strategy to bug down the Canadian Bombardier C-Series backfire and the plane development was “Given” to Airbus for only a token amount. Now the plane is renamed A-220 and is likely to be much more competitive then ever before.


So, this is a dumb as it get. If China decide not to purchase any plane from BOEING… the market is gone overnight.


Meanwhile, I think the Chinese will just call Thales for the avionics and Roll-Royce for the engine (or Safran) and call it a day.


If the USA were successful in preventing the sales from all Europeans and Americans countries (Both North and South America)… The Chinese will probably call the Russian or Indian to get some solutions… and get ready to develop their own.


It is not like USA can prevent the Chinese from copying the technology if they so wish. They operate enough plane from Boeing and Airbus to get access to all the technology they want.


So, this part of the America first (really meaning USA) is likely to weaken USA on short order. More and more, USA is loosing any kind of respect from others countries.



Krishna Kumar Subramanian, Aircraft Engineer, Aircraft Systems Educator

However much you are in awe of China, jet engine development is a tough proposition.

Hundreds are tried and still , trying.

Hundreds have failed.




Without a mature Western jet powerplant, the C-919 is effectively out of consideration of anybody in the world outside China.

Which means it is effectively DEAD.




Yevgeniy Leto

I guess they will have to go with Rolls Royce. I can’t find a more stupid thing to do. It is not as if they don’t have GE engines already. They are in the thousands of planes they bought from Boeing. I will just say that I am glad that I sold my GE stocks


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Nicolaas Manoppo, Engineering & Business Consultant

It is a smart move. There is price and performance factors in selecting the best supplier. Blocking the sales of GE engine will increase China airplane’s price and hence the US airplane will have a better position. FYI, jet engine is not a commodity item.



Jackson Lee

It mostly is just bluffing and bargaining tactics, however it does ring a bell for many Chinese who might have been foolishly believing the principle of live and let live.


You can not simply BUY your modernization and true independence, in fact C919 does have a domestic engine(CJ 1000) in development phase. There are already prototypes in 2017, though it still requires more testing and optimization before it could be trusted. It is there anyway.


GE engines are not only used in C919, and the JV company does have another investor besides GE, we would have to see what French is gonna say about that. The blockade export of such engines would probably lead to two things.


1.Accelerating the development of Chinese domestic engines and mounting on C919, though it would delay delivery of this aircraft for years.

2.Sale of Boeing aircraft in China would be impacted severely, and AIRBUS could laugh its ass off if French did not play the game with US.



I am not surprised if lobbyist groups paid by GE are busy doing their job against such motion, and it is


C919 needs foreign engines because it is civilian and has to consider the air worthiness certificate if it plans sale beyond China. In the worst scenario, it only flies within China, the domestic aviation market is still big enough for C919 to grow if we take out 737 series.


For military transporter such as Y20, the goal is always using domestic supply in case of possible blockade and embargo, though it used Russian engines(D30) to start with. From the published satellite photo in 2018, we could already see the domestic WS-20 were mounted under the right wing, while the left were still Russian D30.



While the testing on the Russian YL76 has been going on for years




Alexander Serebriansky, Military history enthusiast

US is is protecting its own aircraft industry. In principle, they are doing the right thing. But the consequences may be unpredictable.


First, a disclaimer. Lots of people started bashing US for “un-sporty” conduct, and using state leverage to promote their industry.


Without GE engines, China will be forced to look somewhere else to buy engines for their C919 project. They can try buying engines from CFM. However, CFM is jointly owned by US and France, so US can have some leverage on CFM as well not to sell engines to China. France themselves (Airbus, lol!) may not be happy about Chinese competition either, so they can agree not to sell engines to China.


China can turn to Russia, who produces their own PD-14 engine and its derivatives. Although Russia consistently failed in putting these engines to the international market, and, most likely, for good reasons - producing, marketing and supporting a competitive commercial engine is a totally different thing than producing a competitive military engine.


Finally, China can send everyone to hell and build their own engine, CJ-1000. This is the most likely path, and that’s where things can become unpredictable.


China improved its technological capacity tremendously in the last decade or two. So they ultimately can succeed in developing a competitive engine. If this happen, US decision would not hamper Chinese technological advance, but rather accelerate it. China will develop an expertise in building and marketing commercial engines; it will build a capacity to produce these engines; and COMAC will eventually become a 3rd major player in aircraft production, pushing Boeing and Airbus out of their zone of comfort. If this happens, these will be bad news for the US in the long run.


But, as it was said, producing and especially marketing a new competitive engine is a tremendous effort. Very, very few nations and companies have capability to do that, and these players have a major head start over COMAC.


Most likely, things will go somewhere in the middle. China will develop an OK’ish engine that, nevertheless, won’t be very competitive among the developed nations due to both political, technological and business reasons. But thanks to the state support (or pressure, if you like it better) Chinese carriers will buy hundreds of C919 planes with CJ-1000 engines, paying off for its development, and, most importantly, giving Chinese industry an opportunity to further develop and refine their engine technology. Still not good for Boeing/Airbus, as they lose Chinese market.


Bottom line, from the US standpoint, such ban is a right step. US is supporting their industry - just like China is supporting theirs.  In this case US would not end up facing a new, dynamic competitor that is already pushing US away from being #1 world superpower. American corporate greed allowed for this situation to develop.


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