The establishment of the China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Co Ltd (CRAIC), announced on May 22 is the latest step forward in the ongoing project by a joint venture to design and build a twin-engine 280- seat widebody airliner that would enter service in 2027, with first flight in 2024. The intent by Russia and China to jointly build a widebody started was first announced back in 2012.
The documents establishing CRAIC were signed in front of a large model of the aircraft at Shanghai, where the joint venture, with a Russian chair and a Chinese general manager, will be based. The design is reported to be based on the projected Chinese COMAC C929 twin-aisle airliner design, but differs from it in incorporating Russian-developed composite materials and other technologies and will offer nineabreast seating and a range of 7,500 miles (12,000km).
While the prototypes and initial production aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce or General Electric engines, the objective is that after 2030 production aircraft will be powered by the Russian-designed PD-35 engine produced by the United Aircraft Corporation, which will also produce the compositematerial wings. Subcontractors will be selected by 2018. Final assembly will take place in the Shanghai region.
The design is intended to offer 10% less operating costs than comparable airliners by the time it enters service, reflecting the new-design engine and extensive use of composite materials.