CR929 gets a wider body, but who will power ambition?
United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the Russian consortium of plane makers including Sukhoi, revealed new details on the range and capacity of its CR929 wide-body plane built in a joint venture with Chinese manufacturer COMAC. The plane should now be bigger than an Airbus A330.
The CR929 has substantially grown in dimensions since its first design back in 2015, when it was still comparable to an A330-900. The fuselage is now 0.7 meters wider, with enough size for nine seats in a 3-3-3 setup for economy class. The total capacity of the plane should be of 281 seats in a three-class configuration.
The expected range of the plane has not changed however, at about 12,000km, which is a requirement to cover most long-haul routes. To keep the same range while gaining on fuselage width, China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation (CRAIC) had to rely on more powerful engines than the A330 and B787.
Seven offers from domestic and foreign companies to power the CR929 were received, according to COMAC, after a request for proposals was issued in December 2017. The names of the applicants were not publicly disclosed. General Electric and Rolls Royce could power the plane. However, CRAIC may prefer an indigenous design either from China or Russia, in order to avoid potential economic sanctions that could threaten plane assembly.
With its CJ-1000 on the way to power the C919, Aero Engine Corporation of China (AECC) is a serious candidate. It is currently developing an upgraded version of the engine, named CJ-2000. As for Russia, CRAIC would have to rely on United Engine Corporation (UEC) with its PD-35 whose development started in February 2018.
The final design of the plane should be defined in 2021. The wings will be manufactured in Russia while the body and the final assembly will be in COMAC’s hand. The maiden flight is expected for 2023 and the first delivery two years later. The CR929 should enter service with a Western motorization at first, before turning to domestic engines by 2027.
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