Sino-Russian joint venture CRAIC has amassed “soft contracts” for the purchase of 200 CR929 widebody passenger jets, according to the media arm of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation. Quoting United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) president Yuri Slyusar during a panel session titled “Business Dialogue Russia-China” at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum on June 7, the state news outlet did not elaborate further on the contracts but reported that work on a preliminary design draft of the airliner had neared completion. CRAIC expects to freeze the design of the CR929 in 2022.
Speaking with Chinese state-owned media outlet Xinhua, Russian industry and trade minister Denis Manturov said that CR929 program managers are in the process of selecting and concluding agreements with system and equipment vendors. The CR929’s flight-test program remains on track, he added, scheduled to occur sometime between 2023 and 2025 with first aircraft delivery planned for between 2025 and 2027.
While CRAIC has made no announcements on which manufacturer will supply the CR929’s propulsion system, UAC and Comac had previously indicated that the partnership would choose a supplier in mid-2019. General Electric’s GEnX and Rolls Royce’s Trent 7000 stand among two of the seven finalists in a bid to supply the CR929’s engines and nacelles.
According to agreements already reached, the aircraft’s propulsion system will eventually switch to an indigenous powerplant. In September 2018, Russian state-owned United Engine Corporation (UEC) announced plans to develop a $300 million test complex in Russia’s Perm Krai for the prospective PD-35 aircraft engine—the proposed Russian-Chinese replacement for the CR929's engines. UEC plans to assemble and test a PD-35 technology demonstrator in 2023, ahead of completion of an actual engine in 2025.
Launched in 2017, the Chinese-Russian project will cost between $13 billion and $20 billion and consist of a baseline CR929-600, a CR929-500 shrink variant, and a CR929-700 stretch version. Apart from passenger-carrying roles, plans call for the program to develop a freighter and business, private, and special-purpose variants.
Current plans call for Comac to develop the composite fuselage while the Russian side takes responsibility for the CR929’s composite wing section. Final assembly of the jetliner will take place at Comac’s facility in Shanghai and the engineering center will reside in Moscow.