Comac and United Aircraft are both in deep discussions with airlines about the CRAIC CR929 widebody, as they work towards securing launch customers for the type this year.
Comac’s general manager of sales and marketing Brian Zhang tells FlightGlobal that the Chinese manufacturer is in detailed discussions with Chinese airlines on the type, and is confident that an order is imminent. Its key targets are airlines based out of hub airports with international operations.
He adds that partner UAC is also concurrently in talks with potential customers from Russia, and that should all go according to plan, this year will see the Sino-Russian joint venture secure two launch customers for the in-development widebody.
“Compared to the C919, our discussions with customers for the CR929 started much earlier. So in the joint definition phase they are already deeply involved," says Zhang, adding that the manufacturer intends to have a big presence at this year's Paris and Moscow air shows to promote the CR929.
CR929 programme director Xie Canjun details that CRAIC is working towards completing the jet's concept design by the end of 2019 or in early 2020, before moving into the definition phase. The plan is to freeze definition in the first half of 2022, and for first flight to take place around 2025. It has set aside 18 to 24 months for flight tests, with a target for certification in 2027.
For the C919, while Comac signed its first batch of Customers in 2010, China Eastern Airlines was only confirmed as a launch customer in 2014.