There are new variables in the Sino-Russian large aircraft project, leaving Russia alone, China has enough confidence

There is bad news about the Russian PD-35 engine project. The project is in a financial crisis, and the development work may be affected. It may further affect the CR929 long-range wide-body passenger aircraft project jointly developed by China and Russia, bringing new variables to the entire project.

Recently, the Russian United Engine Corporation publicly displayed the 35-ton thrust PD-35 engine model at the International Engine Manufacturing Forum. According to the chief engineer of the project, the development of the PD-35 engine is progressing very smoothly. The core machine test has been completed, and the construction of the demonstration machine is underway, and the ground test is planned to start in 2024.

PD-35 engine model

However, this seemingly smooth presentation is only temporary. Because the chief engineer of the engine later mentioned that the PD-35 engine project encountered a big problem-funding difficulties, the follow-up research and development of the engine still requires a lot of investment, and most of the funds previously allocated by the government were invested in PD-14 and PD-8 engine project too.

PD-14 engine

From these words mentioned by the chief teacher himself, we can actually extract two key information points.

First of all, when the project is in deep financial crisis, the development speed of the PD-35 engine will be greatly affected, and it may be a problem whether the ground test can be started as planned in 2024. Secondly, the priority flow of funds to the PD-14 and PD-8 projects shows that the PD-35 project is not a high priority, and I am afraid it will be further reduced.

In fact, the reason why the PD-35 engine project faces the problem of insufficient funds is mainly because the Russian civil aviation industry is facing an urgent need for replacement and cannot draw enough budget funds.

Because after the outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, Russia was subject to the largest sanctions since the end of the Cold War, and the import channels of a large number of foreign equipment were cut off. This includes imported engines and supporting maintenance parts used in the Russian civil aviation fleet.

Once the existing inventory maintenance parts of the Russian civil aviation fleet are exhausted, the imported passenger aircraft, which account for the main force of the Russian civil aviation fleet, will have to face the reality of a complete grounding.

MS-21 airliner

In order to avoid the collapse of Russia’s domestic civil aviation industry due to the lack of available passenger aircraft, Russia can only choose to fully produce domestic passenger aircraft instead of imported passenger aircraft to ensure that the civil aviation fleet can have sufficient passenger aircraft to use.

Of course, this decision to go all out to maintain production will consume a huge amount of money, and the Russian civil aviation industry itself is not very rich. Therefore, under the strategic need to comprehensively promote the replacement of imported passenger aircraft by domestic passenger aircraft, Moscow can only choose to focus on the PD-8 and PD-14 engine projects with a small number of funds, and reduce the investment in the PD-35 project.

Because the PD-8 engine is the engine planned for the Russian SSJ short-haul airliner, and the PD-14 is the power system for the MS-21 trunk airliner.

SSJ short-haul airliner

Considering that in the next few years, Russia needs to use these two types of passenger aircraft to fully replace the imported passenger aircraft in the civil aviation fleet, the leadership can only give priority to ensuring the development and production of these two types of engines with limited funds.

After all, the PD-35 is one of the power systems for the CR929 passenger aircraft jointly developed by China and Russia. When the CR929 is still in the design stage, Russia has no need to promote the development of this type of engine. It is not a problem that the entire project will face a financial crisis. weird things.

Fortunately, for China, the PD-35 engine is not a big problem even if there is a financial crisis. Because China has long been prepared for a rainy day, it has begun to promote the development of a domestic 35-ton engine, which is the CJ-2000 engine (Yangtze-2000).

As one of the key projects of China’s aviation engine, although the development time of CJ-2000 is later than PD-35, the development speed is not slow. As early as the beginning of 2020, CJ-2000 has completed the core engine ignition operation test, and the progress of the entire project is much faster than the outside world imagined.

CJ-2000 engine model

On the other hand, the PD-35 engine has only just completed the core machine test until this year, and it is expected that it will take until 2024 for the demonstration machine ground test. Not to mention, this is a project timetable made with sufficient funds. Once there is a problem with the capital chain, the progress of the entire project will be seriously affected, and the development work will be forced to slow down or even stagnate.

This also means that with sufficient financial support, it is entirely possible for China’s CJ-2000 engine to complete all development work before the PD-35 engine. One step ahead to become the supporting engine of CR929 passenger aircraft.

Once this situation emerges, China will inevitably gradually grasp the dominance of the CR929 project, so that the entire project can continue to be developed without being affected by the PD-35 engine project.

After all, the reason why China and Russia chose to jointly develop the CR929 passenger aircraft is because when the CR929 project was officially established in 2016, China did not have much design experience in this field and needed to learn from Russia and reduce technology through cooperation. and market risk.

CR929 airliner

However, the plan did not catch up with the changes after all, or everyone underestimated the technical needs of the Chinese side in the CR-929 project. In fact, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Borisov admitted earlier this year that it has become increasingly difficult for them to meet some of the Chinese requirements for the CR-929 project, and the entire project has not advanced as Russia expected. Although it is only a few words, it can also see the change of project dominance.

Of course, what is seriously underestimated is the speed of China’s progress in related technologies. Looking back, with the development of the CJ-2000 engine getting better and better, the entire CR929 project has the conditions to be fully developed by China in the absence of Russia.

This is why China is not worried that the PD-35 engine will affect the development progress of the CR929 project. Because China has the ability to independently develop this level of engine. As long as you have technology in your hands, you will naturally not panic. Even if in the future because of various objective factors, the Russian side will go it alone and remove the R in the CR-929, China will already have enough confidence.