BEIJING - US-based Honeywell International Inc is in the final stages of establishing three joint ventures with Chinese firms to supply aviation parts for the C919 - China's homemade narrow body commercial airplane - said its top executive.
Honeywell signed a $11.3-billion master contract last year with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) to provide parts for the C919's flight system, which includes the auxiliary power unit, flight controls, and the wheel and brake systems.
The signing of the master contract was a prelude to the upcoming three joint ventures with Harbin Dongan Engine Corp Ltd, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), Hunan Boyun New Materials Co Ltd, and AVIC's Flight Automatic Control Research Institute.
This month, Honeywell hopes to sign three agreements with AVIC to provide the C919's Air Traffic Management system, avionics system and turbofan engines.
"The cooperation with our Chinese partners is part of a building block that will help us compete within China and globally," said Mark Howes, Honeywell China's president of aerospace in the Asia-Pacific region.
The C919 aircraft is China's attempt to break Airbus SA and Boeing Co's duopoly in the aviation industry.
Honeywell's Chinese aerospace unit has four joint-venture companies and a wholly owned facility.
Its operations provide repairs and overhauls of auxiliary power units, servicing for component products, avionics, wheels and brakes, as well as manufacturing engine and environmental control-system components.
To further meet the burgeoning demand in the aviation business in China, Honeywell Aerospace's Asia-Pacific headquarters was transferred to Shanghai from Singapore in 2007.
"We've been giving special focus to China over the last three or four years," Howes said. "There is market potential here, which will become explosive tomorrow."
Last year, the Chinese aviation authority gave the green light to fully open up its low-altitude airspace by 2015, a boon for manufacturers of small aircraft and helicopters.
Howes said Honeywell is focusing on the general aviation and commercial helicopter industry in China and its efforts are progressing.
In April, AVIC's Harbin Aircraft Industry (Group) Co's Hafei Y-12 transport aircraft made its maiden flight.
Last month, AVIC's helicopter unit performed test flights for the AC311 commercial helicopter.
Both the AC311 and Hafei Y-12 aircraft contain parts by Honeywell.
"There will be huge activity here," Howes said. "It won't be just China. It will be the engine of growth for the region. Business jet and helicopter manufacturers across the region that are interested in the Chinese market need to be present here."
The growth in the number of new aircraft and airports in China has attracted aviation players to participate in future projects.
Honeywell's aerospace business grew 8 percent in the first quarter of 2011 and profit was up 13 percent year-on-year, primarily due to strong increases in the volume of commercial original equipment manufacturing and aftermarket services.
Honeywell's other business units include automation and control solutions, transportation systems and specialty materials.
Shane Tedjarati, president and chief executive officer of Honeywell's China and India operations, said: "China has become one of the largest markets outside of the US and is a fast-growing and strategic market for Honeywell."
Tedjarati predicted that the company will have "at least 15 to 20 percent annual growth" over the next five years.
With more than 20 subsidiaries and joint ventures in China and an investment of more than $500 million, the company's operations have focused on increasing energy efficiency and building key industries through innovation and research and development, he said.