Russia and China Team Up to Take on Airbus and Boeing

Russia and China Team Up to Take on Airbus and Boeing

If the recent news is to be believed, American and European aircraft giants Boeing and Airbus may soon face competition for their dominance of the market. Earlier this week, the Russian and Chinese state-owned aerospace companies announced a new partnership that they hope will lead to the development of an advanced twin-aisle aircraft capable of competing with the Airbus A350XB and Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

The newly formed joint company, known as the China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Company or Craic for short, is the result of an agreement struck between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping in June 2016. Although the new company released a model of the aircraft at the time of the announcement, not much is yet known about the specific details or technical specifications.

What is known is that the new plane will likely carry somewhere around 280 passengers and be divided into three seating classes. It is also estimated the new aircraft will have a maximum range of approximately 6,500 nautical miles. If this is the case, the new Sino-Russian plane still won’t be able to compete with either the 787 Dreamliner or the A350XWB in terms of range. Of course, all of this could easily change as it is estimated that it will be at least a decade before the aircraft is actually ready to take to the air.

The Growing Chinese and Russian Aerospace Industries Both China and Russia have been focusing on trying to develop their own civilian aerospace industries in recent years, and so far, Beijing is slightly ahead of its counterparts in Moscow. China’s state-owned aircraft manufacturer, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (Comac), recently a developed a single-aisle plane that it hopes will eventually be able to compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.

Dubbed the Comac C919, this aircraft made its maiden flight just a few weeks ago on May 5. United Aircraft Corporation, Russia’s state-owned civilian aircraft manufacturer, isn’t all that far behind Comac in developing its own single-aisle airliner. Its design is named the Irkut MC-21, which is currently scheduled to begin the first phase of test flights sometime in the next few weeks. This means that at some point, the Comac C919 and UAC Irkut MC-21 are likely to be direct competitors although it remains to see whether either plane can truly challenge Boeing and Airbus’ supremacy. Despite this direct competition for the single-aisle airline market, China and Russia apparently decided that teaming up and working together ultimately gives them a better chance of developing a competitive twin-aisle airliner. The two countries are banking on the fact that their combined resources will allow them to overtake Boeing and Airbus, especially when it comes to the local Asian market. Nonetheless, it will still be many years before we learn whether or not this partnership can truly be considered a success.


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