China and Russia’s candidate to challenge the Airbus and Boeing duopoly in the widebody passenger market has been shown off to attendees at the 2018 Zhuhai Airshow.
The China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation (CRAIC) joint-venture has a brought a mockup of its proposed CR929 widebody to the biennial airshow being held on the country’s south coast in China’s Guangdong province.
The mockup measures 22m long, 6.5m high and 5.9m wide. Behind the flight deck is a three-class passenger cabin that includes two rows of first class, three rows of premium economy class and four rows of economy class.
— UAC Russia (@UAC_Russia_eng) November 6, 2018
— UAC Russia (@UAC_Russia_eng) November 6, 2018
The CRAIC JV is a partnership between the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and Russia’s PJSC United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).
United Aircraft Corporation said the C929-600 basic version was being designed to have a range of 6,480nm when carrying 280 passengers. The aircraft is of similar length and width to the Airbus A330-900.
The C929 family would eventually comprise three variants, with a larger C929-700 and smaller C929-500 also on the cards.
“Cooperation between Russia and China in the long-range wide-body aircraft program is an extraordinary example of collaboration in the international aircraft industry,” UAC president Yury Slyusar said in a statement.
“Competitiveness at the highly-developed global market of commercial aviation, especially in the most recourse-intensive and complicated segment of wide-body aircraft, demands integration of efforts, resources and strengths of each partner. It is subject to economics, technologies, experience and human capital assets.
“Our companies, UAC and COMAC, lead the way in such strong cooperation within CR929 Program.”
CR929 chief designer from the Russian side Maxim Litvinov said the CR929 program was currently at design definition state. The selection of the aircraft’s main systems and equipment suppliers was also underway. This was expected to be completed by the end of 2019.
Although the choice of engines was yet to be announced, designers have said previously the aircraft would require powerplants capable of delivering 78,000lbs of thrust.
The engineering centre for the development of the aircraft would be located in Russia, while final assembly would be completed in Shanghai.
All eyes were on #CRAIC at the Zhuhai Airshow today as #COMAC and @UAC_Russia executives unveiled the 1st #CR929 cabin mock-up. COMAC VP Zhao Yuerang explained that the prototype combines experience from the ARJ21 and C919 with UAC's rich design background and market experience. pic.twitter.com/ILOrN5x5BW
— COMAC America Corp. (@COMACAmerica) November 6, 2018
#Russia & #China presented first full-scale model of the upcoming co-designed and co-produced #CR929 wide-body twinjet airliner, showing both the exterior and the interior of the future plane #ChinaAirshow #AircraftOfTomorrow pic.twitter.com/P2ijL1Lu2T
— Russia in RSA 🇷🇺 (@EmbassyofRussia) November 6, 2018
C929 likely to target replacement market
While the CR929’s dimensions are still subject to further refining, having already gone through a number of iterations since the concept was launched in 2015, the aircraft is pitched at the medium widebody market that is ripe for replacement in the years ahead.
Consider there are scores of A330s and older generation 777-200/300s due for replacement in the coming decade. Chinese airlines in particular are prolific operators of A330s.
In particular, China’s biggest three carriers Air China, China Eastern and China Southern having about 150 A330-200/300s between them. Add in the A330 fleets of Hainan Airlines, Beijing Capital Airlines, Sichuan Airlines and others and the figure quickly jumps above 200.
The CR929’s projected entry into service is expected in the 2025-2028 timeframe.
United Aircraft Corporation’s 20-year market outlook published at the Zhuhai Airshow forecast a need for 7,745 new passenger widebody aircraft over the next two decades. Of those, 5,010 would be in aircraft with between 200 and 325 seats, while 2,735 would have more than 325 seats.
China alone represented 1,187 aircraft, or 15 per cent of total demand, while the Asia Pacific region (excluding China) was tipped to comprise 28 per cent of global demand at 2,173 aircraft.
While the CR929 would be the first widebody passenger aircraft to be built by either China or Russia, both countries have embarked on commercial aircraft programs in the narrowbody sector in recent times.
China’s COMAC also has two narrowbody aircraft in its lineup, the ARJ21 regional jet, which is already in service, and C919 narrowbody that is flight testing.
Meanwhile, on the Russian side, United Aircraft Corporation’s commercial aviation unit Sukhoi has two narrowbody programs, the in-service SSJ100 and in-development SSJ130.