What Will Russia’s New Boeing 737 MAX Rival Bring To The Market?

Earlier this week, we covered the characteristics of the PD-14 engines that will be fitted on the Irkut MC-21. Following up on this, Simple Flying also spoke with Viktor Kladov, Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy of the State Corporation Rostec, about what Russia’s upcoming narrowbody jet will bring to the market.

The Irkut MC-21 has been tipped to compete in similar segments as the Boeing 737 MAX and Airbus A320neo. Photo: Rostec

Deliveries from next year

The MC-21-300 has a capacity of 211 passengers and a range of up to 6,000 km and is targeted to serve major markets in both Russia and across the nations. Presently, contracts are for the supply of aircraft to Russian airlines, with Aeroflot set to receive the first unit. Deliveries are expected from 2022. When this market is saturated and the capacity of the plane’s after-sales support system increases, the program is expected to scale up to foreign markets.

Irkut MC-21
Initially, the aircraft will operate on Russian medium-haul routes, but opportunities will open up after market maturation. Photo: Rostec

What to expect

Kladov explains that the key features of MC-21 are the widespread use of modern innovative solutions ensuring high flight and operational performance. He adds that among the innovations are engines with a high bypass ratio and other modern aircraft systems from Russian and international manufacturers.

“The aircraft has improved aerodynamics thanks to its high aspect ratio wings, made of composite materials for the first time on an aircraft of this class. The widest fuselage in its class (4.06 m) provides a new level of comfort. This provides advantages such as a wide aisle that allows a passenger to easily walk past a service cart,” Kladov told Simple Flying.

“Personal space and capacity of luggage racks are also more spacious. When designing the aircraft, our designers took into account the changed anthropometric characters of passengers recorded in modern decades. The level of air pressure in the aircraft cabin also provides increased comfort. On the MC-21, unlike other airliners of this class, it corresponds to the performance of long-haul widebody aircraft.”

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The current focus

Serial production for the aircraft was initially planned to start three years ago, and deliveries were expected to begin at the start of 2020, but there had been a series of delays over the years. However, there has been significant progress recently. Four MC-21-300s fitted with Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines have been undergoing tests. Moreover, in December, the MC-21-310, an edition equipped with Russia’s PD-14 engines, took off for the first time.

Irkut MC-21 Jet
A major goal is the deployment of an effective after-sales service system. Photo: Rostec

Rostec explains that its main priorities are obtaining a certificate for MC-21-300, finishing the production process of the first models, and delivering them to the customer. The serial assembly is carried out at the Irkutsk Aviation Plant, and last month, the first serial outer wing panel made of Russian composite materials was delivered there. The next stage is to complete the certification of the MC-21-310 and begin its serial production.

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