Leonardo announced on October 26, 2018, it signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kangde Investment Group of China within the framework of COMAC CR929 long range airliner programme, aiming at further growth of its presence in the country. 

Leonardo will leverage competences and intellectual property developed in Italy while Kandge will provide the financial coverage for the programme. Following the finalization of the agreement the two partners will establish a joint venture named Kangde Marco Polo Aerostructures Jiangsu, which will be responsible for the development, production and assembly of composite materials components for the CR929 aircraft. This will allow Leonardo to take further advantage of its proprietary technologies and capabilities for the development of a new long range airliner.  

China is expected to require more than 1,500 new wide body aircraft in the next twenty years. Leonardo is also looking at the development of the Chinese space industry and potential opportunities to collaborate in this growing market. 

Kangde Investment Group celebrated the laying of the foundation stone of the new facility in Zhangjiagang city, in the Chinese province of Jiangsu, on October 26, 2018, where the carbon fibre fuselage sections for the new CR929 long-range airliner will be built. 

The CR929 programme was launched by COMAC, together with the Russian Company UAC, in 2017 with the aim of developing a long-range wide-body aircraft. Leonardo signed a preliminary agreement with COMAC, a public Chinese company in charge of civil aircraft programmes in the country, in 2015 to start collaboration for the development and production of sections of the fuselage made of composite materials.