Chinese state-owned manufacturer, COMAC has started to prepare its entry into the electric aircraft segment. According to Chinese media, the planemaker that produces the ARJ21-700 commercial jets and the new C919 has created a joint venture with Contemporary Amperex Technology Corporation (CATL), the private producer of lithium batteries in the Asian country.
The University of Shanghai Jiao Tong is also participating in the venture, was called as COMAC CATL Aviation.
The new Shanghai-based company will be led by Qian Zhongyan, who is also the director of COMAC Civil Aircraft Technology Research Center in Beijing. Previously, Zhongyan also held the role of deputy director of design for the state-owned manufacturer’s C919 jet.
For now, the Chinese press says COMAC CATL Aviation’s business will include aircraft development, production, battery sales and maintenance services. Despite demonstrations in the local media, none of the Chinese companies has officially commented on the new venture.
Founded just 12 years ago, CATL is currently the largest manufacturer of lithium batteries in the world. The company’s products are mainly for electric automobiles produced in China and abroad.
Chinese industry already has some experience with electric planes. In March, the local press celebrated the delivery of what was considered the world’s first electric seaplane, the RX1e-S – which, by the way, is equipped with CATL batteries.
The aircraft with floats was developed by the Liaoning Generation Aviation Research Institute.