(Yicai Global) Nov. 7 -- China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International, a joint venture between Russia's United Aircraft and Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, put a full-scale prototype of its CR929 wide-body passenger plane on display at Airshow China 2018 this week.
United Aircraft's President Yuri Slyusar sat down to speak with Yicai Global about the plane at the event, being held in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. Below is a transcript of the interview.
Yicai Global: Why are United Aircraft and COMAC showcasing a full-size model of the plane already? What phase of development is it in?
Yuri Slyusar: Showcasing the full-scale models ensures our potential customers and passengers a better understanding of the space layout concepts in first, business and economy class, and the cockpit seat, and help them get a feel of the economy class seating compared with that of other planes. Pilots and crews can also experience the comfort of working in the cockpit and cabin.
The CR929 project is undergoing design drafting and supplier screening for main systems and equipment, which should be sorted by the end of next year. At that time, we will form the final appearance of the aircraft and prepare for the gate three phase [in project management terms, the last stage during which a project can be scrapped].
Yicai Global: Why are China and Russia working together on the project?
Yuri Slyusar: Making a wide-body aircraft needs a lot of money. By working together, we can reduce investment risks and the time it takes to implement the project.
From Russia's perspective, China is a partner with strong economic development, stable resources and demand for wide-body planes. According to UAC-COMAC's forecast, the global demand for wide-body aircrafts will total 7,200 from 2023 to 204, with China making up 15 percent, Russia 5 percent and other Asia-Pacific countries 28 percent.
Yicai Global: What unique process and design decisions have been taken for the CR929?
Yuri Slyusar: Composite materials are being applied to 50 percent of the plane's body.
We also look forward to decisions on some new aerodynamics processes. The CR929's wings will be large in aspect ratio and like shark fins to minimize air resistance and optimize fuel consumption, making it greener than competing models.
The economic efficiency of the aircraft can also be guaranteed by lowering service costs. We intend to use an information system that monitors the dynamics of the body and all aircraft components, which will also improve the aircraft's operational safety.
Yicai Global: What are your thoughts on Russia and China cooperating in the civil aircraft manufacturing industry?
Yuri Slyusar: The cooperation between Russia and China is a prominent example of cooperation in the world's aviation manufacturing industry. It requires two partners to work together, leveraging their respective resources, such as funds, technology, experience and staff to be competitive in the highly developed civil aircraft market, especially in the wide-body sector, which is the most resource-intensive and complex.
Our companies, United Aircraft and COMAC, are one example of this deep collaboration.
Yicai Global: You said not long ago that United Aircraft plans to set up a subsidiary in the civil aircraft manufacturing industry?
Yuri Slyusar: Yes. It will be a subsidiary of United Aircraft, but it will not be part of the joint venture. In this work we rely on international experience, including that of China. The subsidiary will remain open to investment institutions at home and abroad, which can invest in separate projects or in the company as a whole.
Yicai Global: Speaking of other United Aircraft civil projects, what do you think about the prospects of the Russian medium-range craft MC-21?
Yuri Slyusar: The aircraft is being manufactured and the MC-21's well-established after-sales service makers for a competitive platform, which will generate an image of the Russian civil aviation industry and set technical standards for the international market in the coming decades.
Yicai Global: What innovative technologies have been adopted in the MC-21 development process?
Yuri Slyusar: We have made many innovations to achieve technological advantages, including large aspect ratio wings made of composite materials, new engines and new airborne avionics systems.
New materials, flight control, air conditioning, navigation and communication systems have been introduced to the MC-21. These systems are developed by our domestic and foreign partners based on the latest technology.
We chose the MC-21-300 with a larger passenger capacity as the basic aircraft model considering the market trend. The innovative composite wing was improved and successfully passed strength tests.
It's predicted based on the analysis of flight and ground experimental results that the project will not change much, but we will continue to carry out system optimization and software adjustment to ensure our aircraft is the most modern, innovative and advanced in technology.
Yicai Global: Can you tell us about the progress in the modification of the narrow-body SuperJet100?
Yuri Slyusar: The development of the shortened aircraft, SuperJet75, will save 5 percent on fuel, according to preliminary evaluation results from Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, which developed the SuperJet100.
We are working hard to increase the proportion of Russia-made components in the SuperJet aircraft series, which is not just about import substitutions but also re-pricing. We strive to make the prices more attractive by making key decisions on a series of systematic changes. The aircraft will not be 100 percent made in Russia, but we will change the components and assemblies that are most critical, most expensive or in the most need of modernizing. This is the evolution of the SuperJet project.
The aircraft has a market both inside and outside the country, and it serves as a hub to transport passengers with aircrafts of less than 100 seats to those with 150 or more seats.
Yicai Global: What are Russia's economic goals in the civil aircraft industry?
Yuri Slyusar: The goal is to increase the proportion of civilian technology to 45 percent of operating income by 2035, while developing accompanying services.