Sources in both China and Russia indicate that the formalization of the long-discussed agreement to build a new widebody aircraft in China using Russian intellectual property will be approved later this month and finalized by the end of the year.
Under the agreement, Russia will supply the intellectual property from the Ilyushin IL-96 widebody jet, which will serve as the underpinnings for the design of a new aircraft, currently names the ShFS by UAC and expected to commercially be named the COMAC 929 in China.
The joint venture will be a 50-50 split, with a total investment of about $13 billion required.
The ShFS is expected in 2 models, a 300 and 400 seat model with a range of 2,700 nautical miles to serve internal markets within China and Russia.
Roll out of the first flying prototype is planned for 2021, certification in 2023, and serial production and deliveries beginning in 2025.
In the near term, it is unlikely that the new aircraft would be a serious threat to Airbus and Boeing widebodies in international markets, but would negatively impact their sales in China.
China is a patient country, and has targeted aviation as a key future market. While they are still learning, they recognize that their strategy is long-term and will require 20-30 years.
The new aircraft is merely a first step along a longer path to take a large share of the international market.