The selection of suppliers for the CR929 programme slips to 2021, because of “difficulties in cooperation with the Chinese partners,” Ravil Khakimov, head of Irkut Corporation revealed at July 8 meeting with Russian government. Irkut is the Russian partner in the joint Sino-Russian venture created for bringing to market the advanced wide-body airliner.
The requests for proposals for the aircraft’s major systems, including engine, were originally offered at the end of 2017. Supplier line-up was expected to be completed by the autumn of 2019, but later slipped to 2020.
Khakimov confirmed that the CR929 program is still at the Gate 3 development stage, where proposals from all suppliers are analyzed prior to defining the aircraft’s final configuration. “We planned to complete this work in 2020 and move to contracting with all the subcontractors and suppliers,” he explained. “Unfortunately we have some difficulties in cooperation with the Chinese partners, so this stage is likely to move for 2021”.
The hurdles will lead to further delays in the programme’s timeline. According to Khakimov, market entry is now shifted to 2028 or 2029, three years behind the initial schedule.
Formally announced in 2014, the baseline CR929-600 is intended to carry 280 passengers in a three-class configuration and will have a range of 12,000 km.
Communication issues, particularly over distribution of responsibilities and therefore ownership of the project’s intellectual assets, have plagued the programme before, hindering negotiations between partners Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation and China’s COMAC. In 2017, they finally set a joint venture called China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation (CRAIC) that manages the CR929 programme. It is headquartered in COMAC’s home city Shanghai, where the aircraft’s final assembly is planned. The Russian side received a right to host the programme’s engineering center in Moscow, but the Chinese will have its branch in Shanghai.
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