Beijing - The Sino-Russian CR929 that was announced by CRAIC (China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation) in May 2017 will be much larger than planned in the conceptual design. Its new size now exceeds that of the Airbus A330-900.
The new long-haul is being developed by a consortium made up of China's COMAC and Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC). The proposed length for the CR929 is roughly the same as the A330-900 (63.2 meters), but its fuselage will be wider allowing it to fit rows with up to nine seats (economy class), one more than the A330-900.
According to the latest information released about the project by COMAC and Sukhoi (one of the companies of the UAC group that participates in the project), the cockpit width of the new jetliner will be around 5.9 meters - 0.7 meters wider than that of the A330-900.
In addition to competing with the A330neo, the upgraded CR929 also puts itself as an option against larger jets such as the A350 and B787.
The Sino-Russian widebody will have a range of around 6480 nautical miles (12,000 km), the manufacturer predicts. However, a wider fuselage will also be heavier, which in turn requires more powerful engines.
The maximum weight of the aircraft has not yet been defined. But as noted by the manufacturer, the thrust proposed by the CRAIC has risen from 71,200 pounds to 78,000 pounds. Such power exceeds that of the turbofans used in the A330-900 and Boeing 787-900, aircraft weighing between 240 and 250 tons.
To compete with Airbus and Boeing, CRAIC plans to launch the CR929 equipped with engines manufactured by western companies. The US GE Aviation and the British Rolls-Royce are the potential manufacturers to supply the engines of the new jet.
In addition to traditional industry suppliers, these two companies have large support and maintenance centers around the world, which facilitates the operations of clients.
Engine manufacturers from China and Russia have also proposed alternatives to the project. Another possibility is the creation of a Sino-Russian program to develop a new engine for the CR929.
The CR929 is expected to hit the market in mid-2028. The first flight of the aircraft is scheduled for 2025.
The launch time of the aircraft planned by CRAIC will coincide at a time when many of the Chinese A330s will be close to retirement. In addition to that, the demand in the Chinese market will also increase further.
Market forecasts from Airbus and Boeing point out that demand for commercial airplanes in the Asia-Pacific region - boosted mainly by China - will grow at a rate of almost 6% a year over the next two decades. In that period, manufacturers estimate that the Asian market will need approximately 14,400 jets of all sizes, about 40% of all global demand.