The Craic CR929 long-haul jet was actually supposed to be a Chinese-Russian joint production. The two national aircraft manufacturers Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Comac and United Aircraft Corporation of Russia UAC wanted to bring the aircraft onto the market in the next decade – as an alternative to the Airbus A350 and the Boeing 787.

They have already founded a joint venture for this purpose. The China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation, or Craic for short, is based in Shanghai. She started the development work years ago. The construction of the first prototype was announced in 2021. But Russia’s attack on Ukraine changed everything.

Because Russia’s attitude towards the West is much more hostile than it used to be. The Russians were therefore angry that China wants to invite Western companies to participate in the $50 billion project. Apparently they are now drawing consequences from this.

Trade Minister Denis Manturov said, according to the TASS news agency, that it is quite possible that a decision will be made “to go from a partner in this project to a supplier of units and components”. In view of the current situation, in which western manufacturers are still planned as suppliers, this is the only viable option.

The two companies UAC and Comac have been working together as part of Craic since 2017 on the development of the new CR929 long-haul aircraft with 280 seats. What will happen if the Russians withdraw is not clear.

The CR929 is actually planned in three variants. The CR929-600 basic version will be launched first and is said to be able to carry up to 280 passengers up to 12,000 kilometers in three classes. The smaller and larger CR929-500 and CR929-700 versions are planned for later. The new model is based on the C929 (China) and SHFDMS (Russia) projects, which the countries previously pursued independently.

At the start of the program, it was assumed that the CR929 would make its maiden flight in 2023 and that deliveries would begin between 2025 and 2027. In August 2022, UAC chief Yuri Slyusar confirmed that the program needed to be revised due to Western sanctions against Russia and changes in the global aviation market brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. The first flight date has been pushed back to 2030.

The two countries not only disagreed about this and the Western suppliers, but also about the profits from potential sales. As the South China Morning Post newspaper recently wrote, citing insiders, China wants all the proceeds from domestic sales for itself. Russia should be entitled to 70 percent of the proceeds in the rest of the world.

China is likely to be by far the most important market for the CR929, at least initially, as it is likely to be difficult to find new customers in regions dominated by Airbus and Boeing. Many airlines have just renewed their long-haul fleets with models from the two major manufacturers. And they will not be willing to buy a new model from China.

The sanctions against Russia make things even more difficult. China could therefore also be interested in buying out its Russian partner.

This article was written by Laura Frommberg

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The original of this article “Russia wants to withdraw from the Craic C929” comes from aeroTelegraph.