First Flight Of CR929 Slips To 2030, Seven Years Behind Schedule

A model of the CR929 on display at MAKS 2019.
Credit: Fifg / Alamy Stock Photo

Development of the Sino-Russian CRAIC CR929 widebody aircraft has fallen even further behind schedule, Russian Industry Minister Denis Manturov has confirmed. 

“We are doing everything now to start the [aircraft] trials by 2030,” he tells Moscow-based daily Moskovsky Komsomolets in an interview.

That puts the program seven years behind its original plan, which called for the CR929 to make a first flight in 2023. Deliveries had been envisaged to start between 2025 and 2027. United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the Russian partner on the CR929 program, recently deleted the scheduled milestones from the program’s description on its website.

Another indication of the setback in the CR929’s development was its omission from the latest government plan to develop Russia’s air transport industry, which was approved in June. The document defines the types and number of aircraft to be manufactured in Russia through 2030 with government support. The only widebody type included was the Soviet-era Ilyushin Il-96. UAC is expected to assemble 12 of the quadjet twin-aisle aircraft between 2025 and 2030.

The CR929 delay has looked inevitable as UAC and Chinese partner COMAC have had to revise the program to reflect the new political and economic environment. The companies have been working together on the widebody airliner since 2017 through their CRAIC joint venture, which is based in Shanghai.

UAC President Yury Slyusar confessed in mid-August that the project could not be developed further in the initial configuration. He said that the COVID-19 pandemic had changed the air transport market and the requirements for commercial aircraft. 

Sanctions imposed by Western countries on UAC and the Russian aerospace industry in response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine have severely complicated matters. These prevent the leading global aerospace suppliers, including engine manufacturers like Rolls-Royce and GE Aerospace, from taking part in the program. As a result, the CR929 designers can now only rely upon Russian or Chinese-made components for the future airliner.

In the latest interview, Manturov confirms that the program would proceed “in one form or another.” It is unclear exactly what design changes are planned. The engineering teams in Moscow and Shanghai have yet to define the new final configuration of the aircraft. The baseline CR929-600 was intended to carry 280 passengers in a three-class configuration and was to have a range of 12,000 km (6,480 nm).