A state firm will invest an initial 10 billion yuan (US$1.6 billion) to develop China's own aircraft engine as it seeks to catch up with other countries, official media said Thursday.
China Aviation Industry Corp. (AVIC) will invest the funds in research and development of an "advanced" engine in the first phase of the program through 2015, the China Daily newspaper said.
Total spending on engine development by all of the country's companies could top 100 billion yuan, the official Xinhua news agency said.
AVIC already produces engines for smaller planes such as trainers and executive jets, as well as for military aircraft, the reports said.
The company hopes to offer a more advanced engine by 2025, Xinhua said, but gave no details.
"China now is fully capable of changing the situation with its overall growing strength," vice president of AVIC Engine Holding Co. Zhang Jian was quoted by Xinhua as saying on the sidelines of the Zhuhai Airshow.
Domestic Focus First
The initial goal was to ensure the air force was equipped with domestically developed engines in the "near future," China Daily said.
China is also developing a larger civil aircraft aimed at challenging the dominance of industry giants Boeing (IW 1000/53) and Airbus, but that plane will use an engine made by GE Aviation and French aerospace group Safran.
The producer, Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), won 50 orders for the planned C919 this week. This brings the total to 380 even though the plane has yet to get off the ground.
COMAC aims to hold the maiden flight of the C919 in 2014 and put the aircraft on the market in 2016.
The C919 will have up to 168 seats and a maximum range of 5,555 kilometers (3,450 miles), putting it in direct competition with Boeing and Airbus in the medium-range sector which represents 70% of China's market.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2012