United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) confirmed that it has downgraded its role in the CRAIC CR929 program from joint-venture partner to key supplier.
The announcement was made during an interview at the international military-technical forum “Army-2023” by Yury Slyusar, the General Director of the UAC.
“All those world technology leaders who cooperated with us, and with the Chinese on the project, have stopped this cooperation,” Slyusar said, blaming sanctions placed on Russia due to its unlawful invasion of Ukraine.
The UAC executive added that the company is considering “various options for cooperation, ranging from the design and production of a composite wing based on the solutions that we use in the MS-21, and ending with the supply of engines, namely the PD-35, which is being developed by colleagues at the [United Engine Corporation (UEC)], and other individual systems.”
Slyusar also warned his Chinese counterparts, namely the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), about the threat of sanctions, saying that “one day [Western countries] will stop supplying key components, assemblies, products, and there will be no aircraft”.
“Therefore, we urge them to reconsider the “insides” of the aircraft as part of joint projects and reduce dependency on Western companies,” the UAC Director General added.
Russia and China announced their intention to begin the development of a wide-body aircraft and cemented the deal in June 2016 with a joint venture agreement between UAC and COMAC to build a twin-aisle jet now known as the CR929.
“[…] intergovernmental agreements on cooperation on joint implementation of a programme to develop, produce, commercialise and organise after-sales service of a wide-bodied, long-haul plane and development of further models based on this plane,” the Kremlin’s announcement read at the time.
During the Zhuhai Airshow in November 2016, both UAC and COMAC jointly unveiled a scale mockup of the aircraft, then known as the C929, promising that it would enter service in 2027.
However, at COMAC’s booth at the Paris Air Show in June 2023, a digital mockup of the CR929 was shown without any UAC logos, with the aircraft’s tail, fuselage, and belly including the words “Comac wide-body”.
The Chinese planemaker still describes the CR929 as an aircraft that is being “jointly developed by China and Russia” on its website.
“It takes China, Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States as the entry point, and at the same time widely meets the needs of the global international and inter-regional air passenger transport market,” the aircraft description continued.