The MC-21 aircraft have increasingly been attracting the attention of the aviation market recently, following an order for the acquisition of 50 new MC-21-300 narrowbody airplanes on lease placed by Aeroflot Group, the Russian group consisting of Aeroflot, Rossiya Airlines, Pobeda Airlines and Aurora Airlines.
But what is the MC-21 and what does their development look like?
The Irkut Corporation and MC-21
The MC-21 is a single-aisle twinjet airliner created by the Russian aircraft manufacturer Irkut Corporation based in Moscow. Irkut is now officially a branch of the United Aircraft Corporation, which is a formation between Irkut, the Russian government and a number of different companies. Originally developed in 2006, the first MC-21-300, which is the second prototype of the manufacturer, became reality during 2016 and completed its maiden flight in 2017. Powered by Pratt & Whitney engines and providing a seating capacity of between 132 and 163 passengers in a two-class configuration, the MC-21 carries a name that means the “mainline aircraft of the 21st century”.
In 2017, the manufacturer had received around 200 orders for its MC-21 aircraft, and the number is increasing during 2018. Flight tests are currently ongoing for the MC-21-300 since May 2018 and expectations are that the manufacturer will receive a Russian type certificate for its most recent product in 2019, along with an EASA type certification in 2020.
The MC-21 on the market
Irkut’s next-generation passenger airplane has attracted the attention of aviation giant Aeroflot Group and the company has officially been authorized to order 50 MC-21s in a deal worth $5bn. The aircraft will be leased for a time period of 12 years via aircraft leasing specialist Avia Capital Services. The aircraft has the ability to provide up to a 7 percent reduction in costs for airlines and can provide a comfortable and enjoyable passenger in-flight experience.
Although Aeroflot has put its trust in the manufacturer with the order, there have been speculations regarding the reliability and profitability of the Irkut. The uncertainty has mainly been influenced by the fact that Irkut is heavily dependent on the Russian government for assistance and backup for production. The development of the MC-21’s second prototype aircraft requires large investments and extensive research. Without the government’s support, it would be difficult for the manufacturer to sustain its consistent financial requirements and therefore would be harder to secure new orders.
Overall, the MC-21 is going through a positive period and is gaining more strength across the aviation market as more orders from the state have been received and the next generation airplane is forecasting a successful future.