Russia’s 737 MAX Competitor Set For Certification Within Months

After years of delay to the program caused by sanctions, the Russian-built narrowbody jetliner MC-21 is now on track for certification in December. The aircraft will come with a domestically made engine option, and Russia hopes it will provide Boeing and Airbus some healthy competition on its home turf.

Russia’s 737 MAX Competitor Set For Certification Within Months
Russian authorities say that the Irkut MC-21 is on track to be certified before the end of the year. Photo: United Aircraft Corporation

Certification scheduled for December

The Russian-made narrowbody contender, the Irkut MC-21, is set to be certified before the end of the year. Russia’s Deputy Transport Minister, Igor Chalik, recently confirmed that certification of the aircraft is scheduled for December. The country’s Federal Agency for Air Transport (Rosaviatsiya) has also signaled that they are ready to give the new aircraft the go-ahead within the next couple of months.

“Our scheduled completion of MC-21 certification is in December 2021, and I have actually just received a confirmation from the Federal Air Transport Agency that we are on track so far. The MC-21 will be certified in December of this year,” Mr Chalik told Russian news agency TASS.

The aircraft is meant to be a response to the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A321neo. Russia is aiming for the plane to replace the aforementioned types to a large extent domestically by 2030. However, oneworld alliance member airline S7 announced early in October that it had, as of yet, no plans to take on the aircraft.

Thus far, the MC-21 has received 175 orders in total. The first delivery is scheduled to go to Rossiya Russian Airlines in 2022. Russia is planning to present the MC-21-300, equipped with domestically-built PD-14 engines, at the upcoming Dubai Air Show in the UAE this month.

pd-14 engine
Russia will present the aircraft along with its domestically produced PD-14 engines in Dubai in two weeks. Photo: Getty Images

The PD-14 option

The version of the aircraft powered by the Aviadvigatel PD-14 performed its maiden flight in December last year. Meanwhile, an MC-21 airframe powered by Pratt & Whitney’s PW1400G first took to the skies in 2017, following years of delay to the program attributed to some extent to US sanctions against Russia.

The Aviadvigatel PD-14’s recently underwent testing subjected to ash from the Shiveluch volcano on the Kamchatka peninsula. Authorities stated that an hour spent in the aggressive environment did not alter the engine’s characteristics, nor did engineers find any consequences to its structure when disassembling it.

Russia’s 737 MAX Competitor Set For Certification Within Months
The first MC-21 powered by PD-14 engines took its maiden flight in December last year. Photo: United Aircraft Corporation

Seven hundred planes by 2030

Russia plans to produce more than 700 passenger aircraft domestically by 2030. These include the new turboprop – the Ilyushin Il-114, the MC-21, as well as the light, multipurpose aircraft Baikal, none of which are currently operated by carriers. Meanwhile, it also takes into account the Sukhoi Superjet SSJ100, already in service with domestic airlines such as Aeroflot, Rossiya Russian Airlines, Azimuth, and Red Wings Airlines.

What do you think of the MC-21? Will it be competitive in the narrowbody market outside of Russia? Leave a comment below and tell us.