Boeing 787 Competitor: How The CRAIC CR929 Got Its Name

Aircraft names and the reason for those names can be very interesting. The reason Boeing commercial jets both start and end with the number seven is an excellent example of this. But what about the upcoming 787 rival known as the CR929? How did this Chinese-Russian collaboration get its name? Let’s find out.

CRAIC CR929
As reported in late September, the first example of the CR929 is now in production. Shown here is a full-scale mock-up. Photo: Getty Images

The C and R

In the CR929 name, the C and R simply come from the aircraft being a Chinese and Russian collaboration. While the collaboration hasn’t been a completely smooth journey, using CR “represent[s] that the widebody commercial aircraft is an advanced commercial aircraft developed by the companies of both countries,” COMAC states on its website.

Indeed, the aircraft is a joint project between Chinese planemaker COMAC (which itself stands for Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) and Russian firm UAC (United Aircraft Corporation). While it’s convenient for the Chinese company to select an English-friendly name and acronym, UAC in Russia translates to OAK (Объединённая авиастроительная корпорация), which in Latin letters is Obyedinyonnaya Aviastroitelnaya Korporatsiya (OAK).

The company set up by COMAC and UAC to produce the CR929 has its own name: CRAIC. This stands for China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation.

Boeing 787 Competitor: How The CRAIC CR929 Got Its Name
Mass production of the aircraft is expected to start in 2025. Photo: Getty Images

Dissecting the ‘929’

Here is how COMAC explains the numbers that were chosen for the CR929:

“The digit ‘9’ in ‘929’ is the largest numeral, which means “forever” and represents that the cooperation between both sides will be far-reaching and last forever…” The planemaker adds that the number nine “represents that the aircraft will have longer service life and operation period, and the joint venture will grow stronger.”

For the second number, the symbolism is a little less grand, with COMAC explaining that “the digit ‘2’ means that the aircraft is jointly developed by the two companies of both countries.”

What about the final ‘9’?

Perhaps one of the most interesting things about the name is the total absence of an explanation for the last ‘9’ in the aircraft’s model name. This would lead us to believe that the companies were following the pattern established by Boeing, using the first number again as the last number.

In case you weren’t already familiar with the story behind Boeing’s naming pattern, the reason Boeing jets have model numbers that start and end with ‘7’ is simply due to marketing. Indeed, if you’ve ever been lucky enough to have taken the Boeing Factory Tour, you’ll have been informed that the last ‘7’ is because the company’s marketing department realized that it sounded better and looked better in terms of symmetry (Boeing’s first jet would have been the Model 700- but 707 was suggested as a nicer-sounding alternative.)

If the CR929 is set to be a rival to the Boeing 787, it might as well have a similar naming pattern right?

What do you think of the name ‘CR929’? Do you think starting and ending with the same number looks or sounds better? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment.

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