In 1985, two Chinese airlines, Air China Southwest and China Eastern Yunnan, took delivery of their first Boeing 737s. These airplanes were powered by CFM International's CFM56-3 engines. CFM was a very young company and these were some of its first orders. Since then, Greater China has become one of the largest and most important customer regions for CFM, with 25 Chinese airlines operating nearly 2,030 CFM56 engines powering more than 985 Airbus and Boeing aircraft.
In late 2009, the relationship was taken to a whole new level when the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) CFM's advanced LEAP-X1C engine as the sole Western powerplant for the new C919 single-aircraft on schedule to enter revenue service in 2016.
"We are both honored and humbled by the continued faith China has placed in CFM products and people," said Eric Bachelet, president and CEO of CFM International. "We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to them for the great success that CFM has achieved. Both Air China Southwest and China Easter Yunnan were willing to work with us in the early days. Since then, our relationship with China's aviation industry has continued to evolve and flourish and now goes well beyond customer and engine manufacturer. And we are constantly finding new ways to strengthen those ties; the C919 is just the latest example of a truly successful partnership."
Since the first engines were delivered 25 years ago, China has become an important supplier base for CFM's parent companies, GE and Snecma. In 2010, these companies will purchase more than $450 million in engines parts, including the CFM56 product line, from Chinese manufacturers. The quality of these parts has been key to the ongoing success of the CFM product line.
One of the world's best aircraft engine maintenance training centers, the Aero Engine Maintenance Training Center (AEMTC), located in the Civil Aviation Flight College, Guanghan City, is a cooperative venture between CFM, the Civil Aviation Administration of China, Snecma, and GE, China Aviation Supplies Imp. & Exp. Group Corporation, Civil Aviation Flight University of China. Since opening its doors in late 1996, the Center has trained more than 8,500 students.
The training provided at AEMTC - a state-of-the-art 4,500 square meter facility with six engine shop bays and five classrooms - is equivalent to the training at the CFM centers in the United States, France, and India. All four centers are staffed with experienced instructors who facilitate exercises in the classroom and hands-on procedures in the engine shop. Each center also provides computer-based training, both self-paced and instructor-led.
To date, the CFM56 fleet worldwide has logged more than 500 million flight hours in service powering more than 8,400 commercial and military aircraft worldwide as the most reliable engines in the air.
CFM International, a 50/50 joint company between Snecma (Safran group) and General Electric, is today one of the most successful aircraft engine suppliers in history; earlier this year, the company delivered its 21,000th engine.