Rolls-Royce (R-R) has downplayed suggestions it needs to establish an engine overhaul facility in mainland China.

R-R already has an engine-overhaul facility in Hong Kong, R-R customer marketing director for aerospace, Peter Cox, told reporters at a press briefing Nov. 13 at Airshow China 2012 in Zhuhai. He was referring to Hong Kong Aero Engines Services, a joint venture R-R owns with Hong Kong Aircraft Engineering.

“Having a maintenance, repair and overhaul strategy is very important these days, but you need to build a substantial number of shop visits to make it viable,” he says, adding that over 100 shop visits per year are needed. But that volume is hard to achieve, because aircraft engines only need a shop visit after every five years, he says.

R-R regional director for Northeast Asia, Patrick Horgan, says the engine maker’s business in China has grown substantially in recent years. He presented a chart showing there were only 50 R-R Trent-powered aircraft in China in 1999. He said yesterday there are 370 aircraft in China powered by R-R with another 166 R-R-powered aircraft on order. Nearly all 370 aircraft are powered by R-R’s Trent engines.

R-R at the air show also said that each year the group sources $200 million in products and parts from China. But this includes R-R’s marine and energy businesses, as well as its aerospace unit.

The British aircraft maker’s biggest competitor, General Electric, has its CF34 engine powering the Comac ARJ21 and its CFM International CFM56 Leap-X engine powering the C919. CFM is a joint venture between GE and France’s Snecma.