New Widebody: When Will The CRAIC C929 Take Flight?

The CR929, which is being developed under a joint venture known as China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation (CRAIC), is gearing up to make significant strides this year. Looking to disrupt the widebody market, the aircraft is expected to hit the skies by the time this decade is over. Let’s take a look at the timeline.

CR929 Jet
The CR929 will arrive with half of its airframe structure made of composite materials, and it will be produced in three variants – basic, stretch, and short. Photo: COMAC

Two forces combine

China’s COMAC and Russia’s UAC are behind this upcoming aircraft. The pair launched their venture in May 2017, with their eyes to take 10% of Boeing and Airbus’ stronghold by 2035. With this announcement, CRAIC announced that it was looking to take its baby to the skies between 2025 and 2028. However, before the 50-50 deal had been formally agreed, there were goals to have the plane in the air by 2021.

Nonetheless, there have been some disagreements since the deal was made. For instance, last summer, Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov expressed that compromises were required amid disputes over market shares.

Despite the setbacks, it looks like the project is still going ahead, and production is expected to begin before 2022 arrives. Notably, the parties involved have agreed on details such as size, shape, and materials.

With some of these crucial points concluded, the CR929’s first flight is projected to take place in just a few years. UAC shares that in accordance with the program development plan, the maiden flight is projected to be in 2023.

CR929 Cockpit Mockup
The basic CR929-600 will have a range of up to 10,000 km (5,400 NM) and the stretched CR929-700’s figure is up to 14,000 km (7,560 NM). Photo: UAC

Grand expectations

Mass production is also expected to take place before the 2020s are over, with an introduction targeted for between 2028 and 2029. There are high expectations when it comes to deliveries, with COMAC keen to deliver 1,000 units before 2045.

Overall, those behind the program highlight advantages for both airlines and the end-user. Modern solutions are expected to offer a balance when in service.

“The aircraft will display state-of-the-art technologies of the airspace industry,” UAC states.

“Ultimate technical solutions will ensure the best performance and allow to offer significant economic benefits, as for the passengers – they will be able to enjoy the increased comfort due to the industrial design of the cabin.”

CR929 Cabin Mockup
The CR929-600 will be able to carry 280 passengers in a three-class configuration, while the CR929-700 will transport 320 passengers. Photo: UAC

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Self-sustaining efforts

Altogether, it’s no surprise that Russia is keen to work on a widebody solution. Rostec, the powerhouse behind the country’s aviation industry, has been ramping up initiatives when it comes to short and medium-haul aircraft in recent years.

The Sukhoi Superjet 100, Irkut MC-21, and Ilyushin Il-114-300 are all billed to dominate domestic fleets before 2030. Thus, Russia will also be keen to progress in the long-haul field by partnering with China to break the status quo.

What are your thoughts about the CR929 program? What do you expect to see with the aircraft when it is introduced this decade? Let us know what you think of the jet and its prospects in the comment section.