The Chinese-Russian commercial aircraft consortium (CRAIC) will issue the next batch of requests for proposals from suppliers for the CR929 within weeks, as it assesses engine and landing-gear offers already received, said Yuri Sluysar, president of the consortium’s Russian member.

An updated target for making the first delivery in 2025, announced this year, may be a little optimistic, Sluysar said, stressing the key target is making the first flight in 2023. Before the program was launched in May 2017, UAC said development could take up to 10 years.

The other member of the CRAIC consortium is COMAC.

The multinational nature of the project brings challenges, but there are no big problems in cooperation, Sluysar said in an interview at Airshow China in Zhuhai. Industry sources close to the program have said the Russian and Chinese sides have sometimes not been well coordinated.

Sluysar said cooperation will have to rise to a new level when the program enters detail design. “It is challenging but we are optimistic,” he said.

Moscow has been chosen as the location for a joint engineering center. Project headquarters are in Shanghai, where the CR929 will be assembled.

The program is in preliminary design; the next stage, the joint definition phase, will begin in the second half of next year. Engine and landing gear suppliers will be chosen before then, Sluysar said, giving no more definite timing; he added that the candidate engines will be uprated versions of turbofans that General Electric and Rolls-Royce are already offering. European companies—presumably Safran and Liebherr—have bid for the landing gear contracts.

More RFPs will be issued this year, Sluysar said. An industry source said these were first due in June, then in October, indicating schedule slippage.

The size of the CR929 rose during concept design—because, says the chief designer on the Russian side, Maxim Litvinov, Chinese airlines consistently favored a large capacity of 280 passengers in a three-class cabin arrangement. The CR929 grew one last time immediately before the general characteristics of the design were fixed in June: length for the standard, CR929-600 version was 63.25 m (207.5 ft.) in late concept design but has finally been fixed at 63.755 m.

Meanwhile span and maximum takeoff weight for the standard, short (-500) and long (-700) versions will be 63.86 m and 245 metric tons (540,000 lb.), respectively, Litvinov said. CR929-600 range will be 12,000 km (7,500 mi.), a figure that appears to have been a constant objective in concept design since no later than 2015. The required thrust per engine is 35 metric tons (77,000 lb.).

The gross weight is barely 1% greater than the figure for the Airbus A330-900, even though the CR929-600 is considerably larger: it is wide enough for seating in rows of nine instead of eight and has virtually the same length and range. The low weight target partly reflects a plan to build the aircraft, including its fuselage, predominantly from composite material; aerodynamic advances are also a factor, Litvinov said.

Although the program has been announced as evenly split between the two sides, Sluysar said that arrangement mainly referred to financial arrangements. Production shares might not be equal, because of the influence of technologies that each side would apply. 

UAC plans to make the wing with the technology that it uses for the MC-21 narrowbody airliner. This is a resin-infusion process that obviates the need for an autoclave and, said Litvinov, therefore offered considerable savings.

UAC and COMAC were planning Nov. 6 to discuss which civil aviation agency would certify the CR929. 

The need for good hot and high performance, a common requirement of Chinese operators, is being considered.

Bradley Perrett, perrett@aviationweek.com