COMAC teams with Russian aircraft maker to develop long-haul jet

China and Russian Federation on Monday launched an ambitious project to jointly develop a long-haul jet to challenge Boeing (NYSE: BA - news) and Airbus, just two weeks after the successful test flight of the first made-in-China large passenger plane. The 50-50 joint venture is based in Shanghai's free trade zone in Pudong.

The news comes just over two weeks after the successful maiden flight of China's first domestically developed narrow-body passenger jet, the C919. The airliner will be assembled in Shanghai.

The programme will have a research centre in Moscow and assembly line in Shanghai, he said, adding division of labour was still being discussed.

CRAIC said it was planning a 280-seat three class aircraft with a range of 12,000 km.

China's civilian aircraft industry is pressing ahead as planned, allowing a next-generationjet to benefit from earlier research and manufacturing know-how. The aim is an economical and efficient jet incorporating heavy use of composite materials.

Guo Bozhi, general manager of COMAC's wide-body department, said the venture would ask suppliers to bid for the contract to build the engine by year-end.

COMAC and UAC signed a pact in June a year ago to co-develop a wide-body jet in a ceremony witnessed by Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin. "We will cooperate with UAC and strive to make the wide-body project a model of the cooperation between China and Russian Federation".

But with the China-Russia jet, which Chinese media (Shanghai: 600373.SS - news) reports say will be called the 929, Beijing will have the benefit of working with UAC, parent of passenger-jet manufacturer Sukhoi and other established Russian aviation brands.

China's C919 made its maiden flight at Pudong International Airport on May 5. "In accordance with worldwide mainstream airworthiness standards, we will develop a competitive long-range wide-body commercial aircraft, provide a better service to the airlines and more contribution to the global aviation market", he added.

  • Zachary Reyes