Moscow had hoped to cooperate with China to build its first widebody airliner since the Soviet era, using Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation as the leader in its part of the project.
It was expected that the CR929 airliner, jointly built by China and Russia, would compete with intercontinental aircraft manufactured by Boeing and Airbus with between 250 to 350 seats and a 12,000 km range.
The project has encountered repeated setbacks on the Russian side because Moscow’s aerospace industry has been heavily sanctioned following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
The CR929 model designation was supposed to represent the countries participating in the project (C – China; R – Russia). However, China has already removed R from the name, promoting the plane as the C929.
The Chinese developer of the airliner – Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) – no longer mentions Russia as a participant in the project and is promoting the aircraft as an exclusively Chinese development.
Last week, at a conference of the Chinese Air Transport Association (CATA), COMAC Vice President Qi Xuefeng spoke about progress in the development of the airliner and said the project has already moved into the “detailed design” stage, never mentioning Russia.
The South China Morning Post reported that Russia was not mentioned during the official launch of the special laboratory for the C929 in September.
Russia was supposed to build airframes and had expressed a desire to participate in the development of the aircraft engines. However, the Russian United Engine Building Corporation (part of Rostech) will no longer be involved.
Additionally, instead of Russian-made landing gear, COMAC insisted on using German and American components.
According to the Global Times, China is now developing the aircraft independently, “with Russia participating as a system and technology provider.”
After the start of the full-scale Russian invasion and the introduction of Western sanctions against the Russian aviation industry, China has decided to abandon most Russian components in the C929 and replace them with Western ones, even though this will delay the production of the airliner by several years.
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