In Photos: Inside Russia’s New Narrowbody Jet: The MC-21-300

The Irkut MC-21-300 is a short and medium-haul aircraft that has been billed to be Russia’s answer to the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo. During last week’s MAKS-2021 airshow in Moscow, I had a chance to tour the twinjet. Here is a look at what we can expect following its introduction in 2022.

Irkut MC-21
The MC-21 program seeks to reduce operating costs, enhance passenger comfort, and meet environmental targets. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

I had reported on the MC-21 several times before I was invited to have a look inside the aircraft. Therefore, I was already familiar with the specifications. For instance, Rostec, the powerhouse behind the designers of the build, has been keen to highlight the jet’s high bypass ratio and improved aerodynamics due to its high aspect ratio wings that are made of composite materials for the first time on a plane of this class.

The MC-21 will be introduced in Russia next year before expanding markets across the nations by the time this decade is over. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

Nonetheless, actually seeing the aircraft in the flesh during this sunny summer’s day in Moscow helped me understand more about the passenger experience that can be expected when the aircraft enters service.

MC-21 Entrance
OAK / UAC is a subsidiary of Russia’s tech, defense, and aviation conglomerate, Rostec. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

The business end

This unit has 163 seats across the interior. 16 of them can be seen straight after entering the plane, spanning across the business cabin.

MC-21 Business
The MC-21-300’s business class is fitted in a 2-2 configuration. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying
MC-21 Business Side
Each business seat has a pitch of 36 inches. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

French aerospace outfit Safran proposed up to 70 different parts for the cabin of the plane. The company’s touches can be seen in business class with its Z600 model seats.

MC-21 Seatback
There were no IFE screens on this unit, but airlines would undoubtedly modify the offerings to their own requirements. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying
MC-21 Business Tray Fold
The tray table folds out from the right-hand side of the seat. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying
MC-21 Business Tray
There is more than enough space for a meal, snack, drink, and utensils when traveling in business. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying
MC-21 Business View
There is a 15–30% window size extension compared to other planes in the MC-21-300’s class. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

Spacious economy

With the widest fuselage in its class of 4.06 m, flight attendants and passengers alike would appreciate the benefits. Victor Kladov, Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy Department of Rostec, told Simple Flying that the aircraft provides some of the benefits of a widebody despite being a single-aisle build.

MC-21 Aisle
The extended fuselage diameter provides more space to move around in the cabin, making it easier for passengers and crew to pass through. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying
MC-21 Economy
The air while traveling on the MC-21 is equal to the pressure at 1,830 m (6,000 ft) above sea level versus 2,400 m (7,874 ft) inside any plane cabin of the same class. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

There are 147 economy seats in the cabin. Each of these has a pitch of 32 inches.

MC-21 Baggage
Passengers can expect up to 25% extra volume in the overhead bins on the aircraft thanks to the extended fuselage. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying
MC-21 Economy Seat
Even in the economy cabin, there is plenty of room to sit back and stretch out. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying
MC-21 Tray
The tray in the economy cabin is shaped so that passengers won’t feel squashed in. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying
MC-21 Wing
A view from the wing of a Red Wings Sukhoi Superjet 100, airBaltic Airbus A220, and Airbus A350-1000. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying
MC-21 Lavatory
We only had a quick glance at the lavatory at the back of the cabin, but it seems to do what it says on the tin! Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

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Getting ready for service

There is a lot to expect with the technical aspects of the plane. For instance, the high-by-pass ratio engines are set to help with fuel-burn challenges while reducing noise and emissions.

MC-21 Cockpit
Rostec expresses that the fly-by-wire system of a passenger aircraft has been “aggregated with active side-sticks with full feedback effect” for the first time. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

Leaving the aircraft, I was excited when thinking about seeing the plane actually in service. Aeroflot, which was initially announced as the launch customer, will be deploying these aircraft. Being the airline that I flew into Moscow with, I am keen to see about the opportunities of me flying on the type in the years to come.

MC-21 Side
It was time to leave the MC-21 after the tour across the cabin. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

The MC-21 will have a choice of two engines – Pratt & Whitney’s PW1400G and Aviadvigatel’s PD-14. The aircraft we reviewed was fitted with the American company’s productions.

MC-21 Jet
A cruising flight speed of 870 km/h (540 mph) and a maximum flight altitude of 12,200 m (40,026 ft) is expected with the MC-21-300. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying
MC-21 Tail
The tail of the aircraft. Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

Altogether, it was compelling to see the MC-21-300 from the inside. Of course, airlines will be fitting the cabins with their own themes before deploying the twinjet in the air. Nonetheless, it was easy to envision what to expect when there are passengers flying high while eating their snacks as flight attendants pass by to offer their assistance.

MC-21 Front
The MC-21-300 has a maximum range of 6,000 km (3,240 NM) and a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 79,250 kg (174,716 lbs). Photo: Sumit Singh | Simple Flying

A key factor that stood out was the amount of space on board throughout both cabins. I’ve reviewed empty planes before, including the A350 XWB, and I can tell that passengers and staff will have an abundance of room for movement when on their travels this decade with this Russian production.

Altogether, there are high hopes for the MC-21. Those behind it expect the aircraft to replace Russian domestic fleets by 2030.

What are your thoughts about the Irkurt MC-21 and its interior? Are you excited about the introduction of the plane? Let us know what you think of the aircraft and its overall prospects in the comment section.