Russian-Chinese disagreement causes delays for ambitious CR929
A fight over responsibilities will push first deliveries of CR929 to 2028-2029, Russian media reports. The aircraft was conceived as a joint project between Chinese COMAC and Russian UAC, mass production was planned to start in 2025.
Disagreement emerged while discussing the ways to divide future sales. COMAC offered to handle deals on Chinese market, which is supposed to have a demand for over 1000 CR929s. UAC would have to compete in a much smaller Russian market with a possibility to sell no more than 120 aircraft, and an international market dominated by giants Boeing and Airbus.
Russia is considering Chinese market as the main one for CR929, and was hoping to tap into sales there too. While it was agreed to divide development costs by half, a small domestic market and an unpredictable international one may not be enough for UAC to recoup its investments.
“We are looking for a compromise, as our aim is not to share our technologies but to get a foreign market. Nevertheless, we are continuing to finance this program,” Russian trade and industry minister Denis Manturov reportedly said.
The first Russian widebody program since dissolution of Soviet Union and the first Chinese long haul aircraft ever, CR929 is supposed to challenge Boeing-Airbus duopoly by offering 10-15% lower operation costs than its adversaries. As the reaction of Russian side shows, it is not seen as having many chances to carve its niche amongst competing Boeing 787 and Airbus A330 beyond domestic markets.
CRAIC, a joint Russian-Chinese venture, was launched in 2017 to manage the creation of the aircraft. COMAC is developing and building its fuselage, while composite wings and fins are handled by UAC.
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