Russia’s 737 Competitor: First MC-21-310 With Russian Engines Emerges

Irkut Corporation has built an MC-21-310 prototype that will undergo flight tests with Russian PD-14 engines. On November 6th, the plane was handed over from its final assembly site for testing.

There are high hopes for the introduction of the MC-21 aircraft type. Photo: Getty Images

Behind the aircraft

The MC-21 is a short and medium-haul narrowbody twinjet, and two variants have been planned. Notably, the type has been billed to be Russia’s answer to the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320neo.

The standard edition that has been worked on is the MC-21-300, which has a range of up to 6,000 km (3,200 NM). This edition can fit between 163 and 211 passengers on board. Additionally, a shortened version, the MC-21-200, would have a range of up to 6,400 km (3,500 NM) and would serve between 132 and 165 travelers. There are also proposals for extended models.

What sets MC-21-310 apart from its siblings is that it is the first prototype to be tested with Russian engines. The MC-21-300 prototypes were fitted with Pratt & Whitney products.

To prepare for the MC-21-310 prototype’s first flight, staff will check the plane’s systems. Workers will also test the ground launch of the power plant and test the aircraft, along with its engines, while moving around the airfield at different speeds.

MC-21 medium-range twinjet airliner
There have been four prototypes of the MC-21, but none of their tests included PD-14 engines. Photo: Getty Images

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Proud achievement

According to Rostec’s website, Anatoly Serdyukov, industrial director of the Rostec aviation cluster, said the below about the MC-21-310 prototype.

“Only a few countries in the world are capable of creating aviation equipment of this level. The upcoming tests of the MC-21 with domestic engines are a landmark event for the industry, a clear confirmation that the domestic civil aircraft industry has a future,”

The Aviadvigatel PD-14 made its first run in summer 2014. Photo: Marc Lacoste via Wikimedia Commons

This summer, there was significant progress in the development of the MC-21. Following a period of downtime due to the global health crisis, flight tests for the plane had been ramped up. The UAC, the parent of Irkut, started to deploy two prototype aircraft simultaneously to make up for the lost time.

Looking ahead

There is considerable interest in the MC-21, with most of the attention coming from Russian outfits. For instance, Aeroflot is the airline that holds the most orders with 50 units on its books. There are only two international airlines that have explicit orders for the aircraft. Azerbaijan Airlines has an order of 10 units, and Cairo Aviation is expecting to take on six. However, the Egyptian firm has an option for a further four jets.

Russian flag carrier Aeroflot will initially be the airline with the most MC-21s. Photo: Getty Images

Altogether, with deliveries planned for the end of 2021, specialists will be busy making sure that testing is successful for the MC-21-310. Nonetheless, the type’s manufacturers will undoubtedly be glad about the recent progress with Russian engines in the mix.

What are your thoughts about the development of the MC-21? Are you looking forward to the introduction of the aircraft? Let us know what you think of the plane in the comment section.