Last Update: at 11:23

Russian and Chinese plans

CR929 to become the first large single-pilot aircraft?

China and Russia are jointly developing a new long-haul aircraft called CR929. It is supposed to be the first plane that can be operated by a single pilot.


Model of a CR929 in the wind tunnel.

At first both countries were working for themselves. In Russia, the engineers worked on the «promising long-range aircraft», as they called their project technocratically, shortened to SHFDMS. In China, the C929 project was pushed forward. But for two years the two countries have been working together on a joint project.

The Russian and Chinese engineers of the joint venture China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corp – abbreviated Craic – are now working on the CR929 project. The aircraft is scheduled to be launched on the market between 2025 and 2027. And apparently craic are not only planning to compete with Airbus and Boeing, they are also targeting a premiere. As chief engineer Alexander Dolotovsky told the news agency RIA Novosti, the CR929 will be ready to be flown by a single pilot.

«Minimal training»

At first, the Craic CR929 will also be equipped with a two-man cockpit, Dolotovsky said. However, the basis for an easy conversion into a cockpit with one pilot will be established. This will be possible with «minimal technical changes», according to the chief engineer of the manufacturer Sukhoi, who is involved in Craic via the parent company UAC. The introduction from 2030 is realistic – if the laws allow this then. «The flight characteristics will be such that a person with minimal training will be able to fly the aircraft.»

The CR929 is planned in three variants. The CR929-600 basic version will be the first to be launched, and will be capable of carrying up to 280 passengers in three classes up to 12,000 kilometers. The smaller and larger versions CR929-500 and CR929-700 are planned for later.

Engines from GE Aviation or Rolls-Royce

Craic is backed by the two national aircraft manufacturers Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China Comac and United Aircraft Corporation of Russia UAC. The CR929 is developed in Shanghai and manufactured in China. The engines, however, are to be supplied by GE Aviation or Rolls-Royce.

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