Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and China’s Comac have agreed to name the new widebody airliner on which they have begun to collaborate the CR 929-600. During a ceremony at Comac headquarters in Shanghai, the companies also revealed plans for a smaller variant of the airplane called the CR 929-500 and a stretch variant designated the CR 929-700.
The letters C and R denote the project participants: С for China and R for Russia. CR also appears as the first two letters in the name of the joint venture dubbed China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Company (Craic), which leads the program. Craic’s board of directors consists of four members from each side; UAC appointed its vice president, Vladislav Masilov, as the company’s first chairman, while Comac nominated its assistant president and general manager of its widebody arm, Guo Bozhi, as Craic’s first general manager.
“Nine is the symbol of eternity in the Chinese culture,” said UAC president Yury Slyusar at the Shanghai ceremony. “And as to us, the strategic name and numbering help us in our joint efforts intended to build the concept of a uniform proposal when it comes to commercial aircraft.”
“The next 20 years will be of strategic importance for the development of the world’s civil aviation industry,” added Comac board chairman He Dongfeng. “We will apply our best efforts to make CR 929 the best example of successful cooperation between Russia and China in the modern world.”
Now having defined the program’s family concept and preliminary characteristics, the partners next plan to move toward the initial design phase and accept requests for proposals from systems and equipment suppliers.
The new widebody would seat some 280 passengers and fly to a range of 6,500 nautical miles, placing it roughly in the category of the Airbus A330-900. The airplane, an agreement to establish a partnership for which Comac and UAC signed in June of last year during Russian president Vladimir Putin’s official visit to China, would cost between $13 billion and $20 billion to develop. The companies first revealed preliminary operating specifications during last November’s Airshow China in Zhuhai, along with plans to build a final assembly facility in Shanghai. Schedules call for first flight in 2023 and entry into service in 2026.
UAC and Comac intend to use the Boeing “gate” process for managing the program. Gate 3—at which point the aircraft would reach complete definition—would happen sometime in 2018 or 2019. Comac and its Avic subsidiary will carry responsibility for final assembly and the majority of parts manufacturing, using existing factories around Shanghai and other Chinese cities, including those now being used for the ARJ21 and C919 airliners. The Russian partner would perform mainly design and development work, according Slyusar. UAC’s newly built 463,000-sq-ft engineering center at Zhukovsky, near Moscow, will house Chinese and Russian engineers working on the program.