Wide-body jet to be built by China, Russia in Shanghai
A wide-body commercial jet being developed by China and Russia is expected to be delivered in 10 years, as early as three years after its first test flight, according to a timetable announced by domestic plane manufacturer Commercial Aircraft Corp of China.
COMAC, which based its prediction on past research and manufacturing experience, issued a statement on Wednesday saying that the company and Russia’s United Aircraft Corp have set up a Shanghai-based joint venture to develop the jumbo jet. The company is expected to start operating by year’s end.
The project signals the two countries’ ambitions to compete in the wide-body market, dominated by United States aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co and Europe’s Airbus Group. Research and development for the new jet will be conducted in Moscow, with assembly in Shanghai.
“It is hoped the development of wide-body aircraft will drive the growth of many related aircraft manufacturing sectors like building engines. China will be able to learn and apply the experiences of Russia, enhancing the manufacturing level of the nation’s aviation industry,” said Li Xiaojin, a professor at the Civil Aviation University of China in Tianjin.
“China is about to start manufacturing wide-body aircraft, which have high standards in terms of aircraft engine technologies and aircraft materials,” he said. “China and Russia still face some difficulties in making competitive wide-body jets given their current manufacturing levels.”
Witnessed by President Xi Jinping and his Russian counterpart, COMAC and UAC signed a pact in June to co-develop a wide-body jet.
The 280-seat wide-body jet would have a range of 12,000 kilometers. It would be an economical and efficient jet incorporating heavy use of composite materials, according to COMAC and UAC. They also plan to develop longer and shorter series of wide-body jets to complement the basic version.
“The direct costs of our widebody jet will be 10 percent lower than those of peer aircraft. That’s among our research and development goals,” said Guo Bozhi, director of wide-body project at COMAC.
The company targets the global market and will boost competitiveness in a fragmented market, Guo added.
The model of a wide-body commercial jet to be built by China and Russia was unveiled at the Zhuhai air show on Wednesday. It will compete with Boeing and Airbus.