Sino-Russian CR929 engineering centre to be located in Russia

CR929 Information on the progress of the CR929 project remains scarce (Evgeny Dubovitsky / ATO.ru)

Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and China’s COMAC have agreed on a Russian location for the engineering centre for their CR929 joint venture wide-body jet programme. “The board of directors of CRAIC [China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation], the joint venture between Russia and China for the wide-body long-haul CR929 programme, has approved the creation of the engineering centre in Russia. A satellite office will be located in Shanghai, the future location for the aircraft’s final assembly line,” states Denis Manturov, Russia’s industry and trade minister, according to Russian state newswire TASS.

Agreement on the location of the engineering base, which will be a 100 per cent subsidiary of CRAIC, lays the foundations for defining the strategy of the CR929’s certification process. Russian Aviation Insider‘s source in the Russian aerospace industry has revealed that the centre will be registered as a separate legal entity that, according to aviation regulations, will eventually become the holder of the type certificate for the new Sino-Russian aircraft. This means the CR929 would need to be certificated in Russia first before undertaking validation procedures in China.

The press office of the Russian industry and trade ministry has confirmed to Russian Aviation Insider that the centre will be set-up in Russia, but offered no further comments on its exact location or gave any additional information.

Industry insiders believe that this latest development is hardly an advantage for the future international acceptance of the CR929’s airworthiness – because without endorsements from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) – sales of the CR929 will be impossible in major markets outside of China and Russia. While both the FAA and EASA currently recognise the certification competence of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), following recent accords among those parties, the American and European authorities’ acceptance of the Russian type certificate is unlikely given the current state of political relations.

Meanwhile, the project’s on-going conceptual design stage is scheduled to complete next year, as well as the line-up of first-tier suppliers for the programme.

According to Reuters, the currently strained US-China trade relations may have delayed the decision by China’s state aircraft manufacturer to choose an engine supplier for the aircraft, the Greater China President of GE Aviation said on Thursday. A decision on the engine selection is expected to take place in the second quarter of next year, Xiang Weiming told reporters on the sidelines of an aviation summit in Shanghai, the Reuters report says. Manufacturers General Electric and Rolls Royce are competing to provide engines for the programme.

The base version of the airliner is designed to carry 280 passengers over distances up to 12,000 kilometres. The maiden flight is scheduled for 2023 and certification between 2025 and 2027. UAC’s president Yury Slyusar previously indicated that the programme has thus far attracted 200 ‘soft’ orders.

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