The Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families have represented the go-to choice for short-haul travel for decades. More recently, they have been developed into the next generation A320neo and 737 MAX series, offering quieter and more efficient alternatives to their predecessors. However, Irkut is hoping to disrupt this duopoly with the introduction of its MC-21. It has now emerged that the aircraft’s first deliveries will take place next year.
What is the Irkut MC-21?
The MC-21 is an upcoming single-aisle jetliner from Russia. Although Yakovlev has developed it, Irkut, a branch of the wider United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is producing the aircraft. While its design process dates back to 2006, it didn’t take its first flight until May 2017. In addition to the standard MC-21-300, Irkut will also produce a shorter MC-21-200.
Alongside the Chinese COMAC C919, the MC-21 has been touted as a potential challenger to the A320-737 duopoly. Despite delays along the way (Irkut initially scheduled its introduction for 2012), mass production of the MC-21 finally commenced last month. The aircraft is now on a streak of good news, as its first deliveries have now been scheduled.
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First deliveries next year
A month after the MC-21 entered mass production, the UAC further detailed the type’s next steps in an announcement last week. Specifically, it confirmed that Rossiya Airlines would receive the first revenue-earning MC-21 next year, according to Air Data News. Russian news site iz.ru adds that Rossiya will receive a total of six MC-21s in 2022.
Air Data News reports that these six deliveries should be fitted with Pratt & Whitney PW1431G engines. However, the first MC-21 prototype with Russian PD-14 engines made its first flight last year. As such, this option may become more widely available later on. The MC-21 has been rigorously tested, as UAC’s VP of Sales and Marketing, Kirill Budaev, confirms:
“We have four planes flying. As part of the certification, a full flight performance assessment has already been carried out, and a take-off and landing performance assessment is being completed. The plane has also been tested on a runway covered with water and snow.”
Rossiya Airlines in a nutshell
Rossiya Airlines is a subsidiary of Russian flag carrier Aeroflot. Its main bases are Moscow Sheremetyevo International (SVO) and Saint Petersburg Pulkovo Airport (LED). It dates back to 1932, when the Pulkovo Aviation Enterprise emerged. Rossiya has operated under its current identity since the early 1990s, and merged with Pulkovo Aviation in 2006.
Rossiya itself was merged into the wider Aeroflot group in 2011 to become a subsidiary of a Russian flag carrier. This was part of a governmental decree that it hoped would offer increased financial stability to the country’s airlines. It launched a new livery in 2016.
Rossiya itself hasn’t ordered the MC-21. However, Aeroflot, is a key customer, with 50 orders and a further 35 options according to FlightGlobal. As such, the Rossiya-bound models will likely come from this pool. The aircraft has 175 firm orders in total.
What do you make of the Irkut MC-21’s delivery target? Are you looking forward to seeing the aircraft enter service? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.