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CRAIC Plans 3 Versions Of Its New Widebody: The ‘CR929’





The vast majority of modern airliner families feature more than one variant of the aircraft in question. This gives operators greater flexibility in tailoring their fleet to their specific needs by choosing variants that best correspond to them. Whether an airline favors range or capacity in a particular airliner family, there will generally be a variant that suits them. The upcoming CRAIC CR929 is also set to have multiple variants, but how do they differ?

CRAIC plans to offer operators greater flexibility by developing three variants of its proposed CR929 aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

What is the CRAIC CR929?

The CRAIC (China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation) is a joint-venture project between two Chinese and Russian manufacturers. These are COMAC (Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China) and UAC (United Aircraft Corporation), the latter of which is a consolidation of companies including Ilyushin, Irkut, Sukhoi, and Tupolev.

Together, the companies are planning to design and produce a long-range, twin-engine widebody airliner. This will take the name ‘CR929,’ with the latter two numbers referring to its proposed 290-seat capacity. COMAC is also thought to be considering a larger 390-seat C939.

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CRAIC CR929 Getty
The project will see COMAC and UAC join forces. Photo: Getty Images

It will be interesting to see what kind of an impact the aircraft has when it enters service in the mid to late-2020s. CRAIC is targeting a 10% share of the long-haul widebody market with the aircraft, an area dominated by Airbus and Boeing. However, the latter is taking competition in the narrowbody market from the COMAC C919 seriously, so these established manufacturers may also find themselves wary of this larger design.

The standard version

According to COMAC, the standard version of the aircraft will be the CR929-600 model. This variant will have a capacity of 280 passengers, and a range of 12,000 km (6,480 NM). In terms of capacity, this puts it in a similar ballpark to aircraft such as the Boeing 787-9 ‘Dreamliner.’


The Airbus A330neo (-900 variant) can also hold a similar number of passengers. However, these established aircraft both have the edge over the CR929 in terms of range. They can fly for 14,140 (7,635 NM) and 13,334 km (7,200 NM) respectively.

The CR929 will face strong competition from established Airbus and Boeing designs. Photo: Getty Images

Extra range or capacity, but not both

UAC also reports that there will be a short-fuselage version of the aircraft, known as the CR929-500. Naturally, this will have a lower capacity than the standard version, seating around 250 passengers, but with a greater range of 14,000 km (7,560 NM).


This means that it will marginally outperform the Boeing 787-8 in both of these fields. However, the Airbus A330-800, which also has a similar capacity, outranks it in terms of rage, reaching 15,094 km (8,150 NM).

For airlines facing higher demand, size matters. Such carriers may find that they are tempted by CRAIC’s stretched CR929-700 variant. This will have an enhanced capacity of 320 passengers, but a lower range measuring 10,000 km (5,400 NM).

French bee A350-900
The A350-900’s range outranks that of the CR929-700 by a full 50%, measuring 15,000 km, or 8,100 NM. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

This capacity is similar to the Boeing 787-10 and Airbus A350-900. However, neither of these compromise on range in the way that the CR929-700 does. The stretched Dreamliner can fly for 11,910 km (6,430 NM), while the A350-900 clocks in at an impressive 15,000 km (8,100 NM).

Therefore, on the whole, it seems that the different CR929 variants generally cannot match their Airbus and Boeing rivals in terms of these key specifications. Nonetheless, it will be fascinating to find out which versions are most popular among the airlines that do place orders for the type.

Which version of the CRAIC CR929 do you believe will be the most successful? Have you ever flown on an aircraft produced by either COMAC or UAC, the two manufacturers involved? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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Over 100 New Routes Have Been Launched In The US Since March 1st





Seattle to Heathrow will have up to five daily flights with four airlines this summer, the result of both American and Delta recently beginning – or restarting – the route. Some 110+ US routes were added in just 46 days to April 15th. Southwest added the most routes, while Las Vegas saw the most for an airport.

Delta B767-400ER
Delta has relaunched Seattle to Heathrow. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Over 110 US routes were launched between March 1st and April 15th, The Anker Report, an aviation analysis publication, shows. This has been crucial in the US’ recovery effort, with TSA data highlighting that demand around Easter was about 60% of that recorded in 2019 – much stronger than almost any other country.

United B737-800
United launched a handful of routes, including a 2,286-mile service from Los Angeles to San Pedo Sula using the Boeing 737-800, as shown here. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Las Vegas added the most routes

Some 90 airports saw new routes, The Anker Report showed. Las Vegas was number-one, with 11 routes across four airlines:

  1. Allegiant: Asheville (twice-weekly next week)
  2. Allegiant: Flint (twice-weekly)
  3. Frontier: El Paso (twice-weekly)
  4. Frontier: Little Rock (twice-weekly)
  5. Frontier: Wichita (twice-weekly)
  6. Frontier: Oklahoma City (twice-weekly)
  7. Frontier: Puerto Vallarta (twice-weekly)
  8. JetBlue: Cancun (three-weekly)
  9. JetBlue: Raleigh Durham (twice-weekly, rising to four-weekly in May)
  10. Southwest: Colorado Springs (14-weekly)
  11. Southwest: Santa Barbara (21-weekly)

Perhaps surprisingly, Las Vegas to Wichita now has three airlines offering non-stop service: Frontier togther with Allegiant (twice-weekly) and Southwest (once-weekly). Similarly Oklahoma City: Frontier, but also Allegiant (twice-weekly) and Southwest (six-weekly). Frontier’s entry is driven by a big reduction in flights and seats by Southwest versus pre-pandemic.

Frontier A320
Frontier added five routes from Las Vegas, with even Wichita having three airlines non-stop from Sin City. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Seattle to Heathrow now has four airlines

Some 19 international routes launched, notably Seattle to Heathrow with both American Airlines and Delta launching, joining British Airways. (Delta last operated the route until March 2017.) Next week, there will be 10 non-stop services across the three carriers, as shown below.

  1. American Airlines: three-weekly using B777-200ERs
  2. British Airways: four-weekly with B787-9s/10s
  3. Delta: three-weekly using B767-400ERs

This is a large number given that travel from the UK is still for essential reasons only, with international leisure not permitted until May 17th at the earliest. Come that May week, there will be 20-weekly – almost three a day. Virgin Atlantic will also be operating by then – making four airlines non-stop – with a seven-weekly service. The American-BA and Delta-Virgin partnerships are clearly important.


BA 787
Seattle to Heathrow will have up to five daily non-stop services this summer. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying.

Up to five-daily coming

At the time of writing, there are 33 weekly services – up to five a day – bookable later this summer across American, BA, Delta, and Virgin. On August 13th, for example, departures from Seattle will include three in less than one hour:

  1. 1335: BA
  2. 1500: Virgin
  3. 1820: BA
  4. 1900: Delta
  5. 1915: American

Southwest added 51 routes

The Anker Report shows that Southwest added 51 routes, over three times more than the 15 by American Airlines. Notable here are Southwest’s five new Colorado Springs routes, with the city new for the airline.


Southwest B737-800
Southwest added by far the most routes in this 46-day period. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Unlike many destinations in Colorado, Colorado Springs is summer-focused. This fits with other outdoor-based destinations, including Idaho, Wyoming, and Montana, that have seen big rises in planned capacity. They are all planning more capacity this May than in 2019.

Southwest’s Colorado Springs routes have pretty high frequencies, most notably Denver with 27-weekly, and the 73-mile service is Southwest’s shortest route. Simple Flying recently showed that Denver is Southwest’s top airport.

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What Happened To Cathay Pacific’s Passenger Boeing 747s?





The Boeing 747 was a pivotal part of the Cathay Pacific fleet for over three decades until its eventual retirement in 2016. The carrier still operates the 747 as a cargo plane, but what exactly happened to all of its passenger Boeing 747s?

The Boeing 747 became a special part of the Cathay Pacific fleet. Photo: Getty Images

37 years of the Boeing 747

Cathay Pacific received its first Boeing 747, a 747-267B (registration: VR-HKG), on July 20, 1979. Over the next decade, the airline would invest in several 747-200s and 747-300s before the introduction of the best-selling 747-400 to the market in the 1990s. Cathay would purchase 18 passenger 747-400s directly from Boeing over the next decade and also snapped up seven 747-412s from Singapore Airlines.

However, the glory days of Cathay’s 747s were soon on the decline as the airline looked to other planes for its fleet, including the 777-300ER. Cathay took delivery of its first twin-engine 777-300ER in 2007; by 2014, its 747 fleet had been reduced to half a dozen. By 2016, Cathay had just three operational passenger 747s – B-HUJ, B-HUI and B-HKT – and would officially retire the type from its fleet permanently in the same year.

Cathay 747 deliberately crashed into hangar
Almost all of Cathay’s Boeing 747s have now been consigned to the scrapheap. Photo: Getty Images

According to Mark Hoey, Cathay Pacific General Manager Operations and a former pilot of the 747,

“The 747 fundamentally changed the way people were able to travel. Being able to carry more people for far greater distances than before meant the 747 effectively shrunk the planet. As a result, it helped make Hong Kong become a world city.”

The last 747 in the fleet

B-HUJ, the last Cathay Pacific passenger Boeing 747-400 to fly, had a commemorative flyover of Victoria Harbor in Hong Kong on its final flight on October 8, 2016. During this trip (Cathay Pacific flight 8747), the plane carried around 300 Cathay staff members, many dressed in 1970s and 1980s-era clothing to celebrate the plane’s history.

Cathay’s last remaining 747 (B-HUJ) was retired in 2016 after a final commemorative flight. Photo: N509FZ via Wikimedia Commons

The plane’s final passenger flight was from Tokyo Haneda Airport to Hong Kong on October 1, 2016. After it was retired from the Cathay fleet, B-HUJ was dismantled and recycled in 2017. Interestingly, the skin of the fuselage was used to make 3000 special-edition luggage tags.


Almost all 747s were broken up

Other than a couple of exceptions, the vast majority of Cathay’s 747 fleet was eventually moved on to the scrapheap. Some of the airline’s earlier 747-200s entered service with new airlines after they moved on from Cathay, while almost all of its 747-400s were scrapped in the 2010s as it retired the type from its fleet.

One of Cathay’s last remaining 747s, B-HUI, was partially preserved after being sent to the scrapheap. The plane was broken up at Bruntingthorpe Aerodrome in 2017, with its cockpit preserved and on display at the South Wales Aviation Museum.


The cockpit from B-HUI, one of Cathay’s last operational 747s, is now in a museum in Wales. Photo: Edwin Leong via Wikimedia Commons

Although the airline got rid of its final passenger 747 in 2016, it continues to operate the 747 for cargo operations. In total, the airline has six 747-400 and 14 747-8 freighter variants. The airline has also been adapting its other planes for cargo operations, with passenger demand drying up in the ongoing pandemic.

Did you ever fly on a Cathay Pacific Boeing 747? Feel free to share your experience and memories in the comments.

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Air Tanzania Eyes A Larger Airbus A220 Fleet





Dar es Salaam-based Air Tanzania is thinking of adding more Airbus A220 aircraft to its current fleet. The news of the expansion comes amidst the current COVID-19 medical emergency, with many airlines looking to consolidate rather than expand. Former Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who passed away last month after becoming infected with the coronavirus, had big plans for state-owned Air Tanzania.

Air Tanzania’s first A220
Air Tanzania has a young fleet of eight aircraft. Photo: Airbus

Like many a leader in underdeveloped counties, John Magufuli planned to use the state and the state alone to bring prosperity to the African nation. Hellbent on promoting outrageous mega infrastructure projects during his 2015 election campaign, Magufuli promised to revive Air Tanzania and make it an airline the nation could be proud of.

Tanzania wants to entice tourists

Tanzania is a country full of virtual splendor with astounding wildlife, seductive Indian Ocean beaches, and natural wonders that include Africa’s hights mountain Kibo (Uhuru Pk) in the Eastern Rift mountains. Seeing Tanzania’s potential for tourism, Magufuli decided that Tanzania would need to have an airline with a modern plane fleet to entice visitors.

True to his word, in September 2016, Air Tanzania took delivery of two Bombardier DHC-8-400s, followed up by two more on April 2, 2019. Air Tanzania also received an Airbus A220-300 in December 1018 and a second in January 2019. As well as the Airbus jets Air Tanzania took delivery of its first Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner in July 2018 and its second in October of 2019.
Aviation enthusiast website lists Air Air Tanzania as having a fleet of eight aircraft with an average age of 3.3 years old.

Three more planes

In 2019 Air Tanzania also announced that they would get another Bombardier DHC-8-400 and a further two Airbus A220s. At the same time, there has been no news about when the two A220s will be delivered. Austrian aviation website aeroTELEGRAPH claims they will be delivered sometime this year or next.

Air Tanzania also has a Dash-8 on order. Photo: Photo: steves aviation via Wikimedia

During an address before Parliament on April 13, Tanzania’s new Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said that the government had paid for the new aircraft and that they would be arriving during the 2021/2022 financial year. The Prime Minister also complimented Air Tanzania for launching its Julius Nyerere International Airport (DAR)- Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport (CAN) route. He called the flights between Tanzania and China as being a catalyst for boosting tourism, trade, and employment.


Air Tanzania lost $26 million in 2019/2020

This latest optimism regarding the state-owned airline comes at a challenging time for Air Tanzania who, according to the Tanzania Court of Auditors, has lost Sh150 billion ($60 million) over the past five years, with Sh 60 billion ($26 million) of the losses incurred during the 2019/2020 financial year.

Air Tanzania Airbus A220
Air Tanzania has two Airbus A220s. Photo: Kelvin Mwanasoko via Wikimedia

Again another vanity project appears to be spiraling out of control, and with Kassim Majaliwa closely aligned with Magufuli’s projects, it appears as though Air Tanzania is going to get its new aircraft. Of course, there are other politicians in Tanzania that can see the folly, while others cling on to John Magufuli’s big dream for the country.


What do you think about Air Tanzania taking deliveries of new planes now when airliners around are struggling to survive? Please tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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How U.S. Airports Are Generating Revenue After Losing Billions During the Pandemic




Despite receiving relief from Congress, commercial airports across the country are hurting 13 months after Covid-19 impacted airlines and the travel industry. Terminals that were once buzzing with travelers are now echo chambers, and while it’s a breeze for passengers to get through, it’s a tremendous loss in revenue for airports.

Airports Council International-North America (ACI-NA), the trade group representing commercial airports in the United States and Canada, is projecting airports across North America will lose $40 billion for the two-year period between March 2020 and March 2022.

“These mounting losses, coupled with increased operational costs, will impede airports from investing in much-needed infrastructure projects, at a time when they continue to foot the bill for extensive facility upgrades and enhanced health and safety practices to limit the spread of Covid,” ACI-NA President Kevin M. Burke said.

So how are airports managing? Skift reached out to airports across the U.S. to see what each is doing to generate revenue. Here’s a look at how four airports are creatively increasing their earnings during the pandemic.

Leasing Rules

Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport has been leaning into new technologies and innovative approaches to improve the experience for travelers, create efficiencies for business partners, enhance revenue, and reduce costs. The airport innovation team is looking at various opportunities for new revenue streams and revenue sharing through partnerships with startups, universities and more, said airport spokesperson Mindy Kershner.

The Cincinnati airport is generating revenue by focusing on e-commerce and air cargo, which has seen a 38 percent growth year over year for the first two months of 2021, (252,509 tons) and 15 percent growth year over year in 2020, (1.4 million tons), Kershner said.

“We have diversified our operations over the last five to 10 years with a strategic focus on recruiting and supporting air cargo carriers for their growth and development. We are in a unique position as home to two air cargo hubs: DHL Express Global Superhub of the Americas as well as Amazon’s Air Hub,” said Kershner. “The shift to e-commerce during the pandemic and continued air cargo growth has been critical in protecting aeronautical revenue streams during this lull in passenger traffic.”

Another focus of the airport is land development and trying to secure long-term leases for tenants and developers, she said.

“Rather than sell land at a one-time price, these leases are providing long-term revenues for the airport. This has been successful with more than 200 acres of land developed by multiple tenants since 2015 alone,” Kershner said.


In the Bay Area in California, golf is king at Oakland International airport.

Roberto Bernardo, an airport spokesperson, cited an example of a business that has performed well during the pandemic: Metropolitan Golf Links golf course, located on airport land. “Golf has been one of the more popular outdoor recreation opportunities available throughout the pandemic,” he said.

Bernardo said the anticipated revenue to the Port of Oakland generated by Metropolitan Golf Links which is operated by Oakland Golf and sitting on property owned by the airport, is $224,000 for fiscal year 2020-21. In an agreement with the city of Oakland, which the Port of Oakland leases the land to, the two split the profits generated from the rent equally.

Ads Paying Off

In New Mexico, the Albuquerque International Sunport is focusing on non-aeronautical revenue, including leasing undeveloped land at the airport to fill the gap in lost revenue and bring back jobs to the community, said Jonathan Small, an airport spokesperson.

“Another program we’ve developed to help generate non-aeronautical revenue is a new in-house advertising program. We saw an opportunity to bring the program in-house and receive 100 percent of revenue with assets we currently owned, without needing to make a substantial capital investment,” said Small.

Small said they’ve had to get creative to cost costs and avoid layoffs.

“In some cases, we have reallocated resources to take advantage of other areas of opportunity. Land development is a great example of this. The Sunport owns quite a bit of land around the airport itself, so we ramped up efforts to promote and lease various parcels of land,” Small said. “We currently have several significant deals in-progress, which will not only generate revenue for us, but the corresponding developments on that land will provide a massive economic boost for our community and the entire state of New Mexico.”

Small said the the airport owns several commercial properties that are all currently leased or in the process of being leased. Additionally, it has agreements with a hotel and four offsite parking lots that generate income.

Although Small declined to provide specific revenue numbers due to the ongoing deals for lands and advertising, he acknowledged that the non-aeronautical revenue is helping offset lost revenue.

Donuts, Toyotas, and Trump

Palm Beach International (PBI) airport also is making use of the land the airport owns in creative ways to generate income

The Travel Plaza

Palm Beach International airport leases land to the Travel Plaza in West Palm Beach.

“PBI continues to take considerable revenue loss to our concessions, variable airline fees, and parking over the past year. That being said, PBI has a diverse revenue stream, including several off-site commercial developments such as two hotels, a Toyota dealership, warehouses, and the Drive Shack,” said Lacy Larson, an airport spokesperson.

Additionally, the airport leases land to a career resource center, and it has long-term, 30-year leases to Dunkin’ Donuts/7-Eleven that aside from rent also pays the airport .0005 cents per gallon of gas sold. Also, the Trump International Golf Course is on airport land.

The Trump International lease, up for renewal in 2029, carries two renewal clauses, totaling a 75-year lease, Larson said.

The long-term non-aeronautical leasing generates a variable annual income of $4,008,911 for the airport.

“In addition to the off-site commercial real estate, our general aviation acts as a strong revenue stream. Examples of general aviation revenue include landing fees, fuel (flow), and leases,” Larson said. “In addition, the Palm Beach County Department of Airports includes three general aviation airports, with general aviation at PBI being the strongest.”

Photo Credit: Palm Beach International airport at night overlooking its leased lands in West Palm Beach, Florida. Palm Beach International Airport

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