MC-21 Boeing 737 MAX Challenger Takes First Flight With Russian Engines

On Tuesday, the first MC-21 variant equipped with Russian-built PD-14 engines took its first flight. Taking off from the manufacturer’s test facilities in Siberia, the flight lasted an hour and 25 minutes. Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister said the jet was a landmark for the country’s civil aviation industry.

The MC-21 could be a solid contender for the new airline. Photo: Getty Images

The flight, operated by aircraft with test registration 73055, took off from the airfield of the manufacturer Irkut in Siberia. It lasted 1 hour and 25 minutes, and onboard were two pilots and an engineer.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.

First take-off with PD-14

The standard version of the model, the MC-21-300, made its maiden flight back in 2017. However, this was its first lift-off for the MC-21-310 variant, equipped with the new domestic PD-14 engines. Produced by the company Aviadvigatel, the PD-14 has been developed specifically to power the new narrowbody plane.

The preparation for the flight and its take-off, which seem to have taken place in the fairly early morning, was captured in the video below.

Russia hopes that its new jet will take up the competition with Boeing’s 737 MAX and Airbus’ A320neo. To be able to market it with domestically produced engines would certainly be a feather in the cap for its aviation industry.

A first since the beginning of the 1990s

Yury Borisov, Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, thinks that the new plane – along with its new engines, has a whole host of benefits that will bring Russian civil aviation firmly back on the world market.

“MC-21 is a landmark project of Russian aviation industry. (…) The first flight of a new Russian airliner with the first completely Russian civilian engine created in our country since the beginning of the 1990s is proof of our ability to create high-tech competitive civilian equipment even in the face of serious market and technological challenges,” Mr Borisov told news agency TASS following the flight.

Moscow has high hopes for its new single-aisle aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

Standard is still Pratt & Whitney

The plane, a prototype of the MC-21-310, rolled out from Irkut’s final assembly line on November 6th and was then formally transferred to its flight-test division. The -300 is the planned standard edition of the plane. However, that is powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines.

Four of the -300s are already carrying out test-flights for the plane’s certification process. Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov has previously said he hopes that the plane will be certified before the end of 2021.

MC-21 medium-range twinjet airliner
The standard  MC-21 will still have Pratt & Whitney engines. Photo: Getty Images

PD-14 certified in 2018

Rosaviatsia, Russia’s federal agency for air transport, certified the PD-14 in 2018. It has a take-off thrust of 30,800lb (137kN) and a fan diameter of 1.9 meters, compared to the PW1400G, which has 31,572 lb (140.39 kN) and a diameter of just over two meters. According to the manufacturer, Rosdvigatel, the fuel-consumption of the PD-14 is 10-15% lower than for previous generation engines.

“This flight is the result of the coming together of two major programs of Russia’s civil aviation industry,” Sergey Chemesov, Director of state-corporation Rostec, which specializes in consolidating strategically important companies, said to TASS.

“Through the efforts of scientists, designers, engineers, workers, a new generation airliner is being created, which will return our country to the top league of world aviation,” Mr Chemesov continued. 

What do you think of Russia’s new all-domestically produced jet and engine combo? Let us know in the comments.