Russia is pinning a lot of hope on its new passenger jet, the MC-21 to win back its lost glory in the aviation market. Russia has carried out the first test flight of the MC-21 (it has been tagged as MS-21 by the western media) on May 28. It is a medium range commercial passenger aircraft through which Russia also aims to capture the ground it lost to the West in aerospace engineering over the last three decades or so. The aircraft test comes less than a month after Commercial Aircraft Corporation China (Comac) tested a similar airliner, C919.
Russia’s newest airliner will compete in the short- to medium-range, narrow-body, twin-engine, single-aisle airline class. According to an India Express report, the commercial airliner constitutes single largest segment in the world’s aviation market which is currently dominated by the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737.
The airliner developed by Irkut Division of the Russian government-owned United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is going to make its first deliveries roughly in late 2018, or early 2019. MC-21 has a capacity of 163 seats (16 business and 147 economy) in a double-class layout, whereas in a single-class layout it is capable of accommodating 211 economy-class passengers. Its range is about 6000 km. According to Irkut’s claim, the aircraft has the widest fuselage in its class which will give passengers much more space. Indian Express report says, MC-21 is 3 tonnes lighter than the Boeing 737. Designers have used carbon fibre composite materials in building more than 30% of the aircraft which makes it lighter and enhances the flight’s technical characteristics. The manufacturers claim that its operational cost is 12-15% lower than its western competitors.
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President Putin has tasked the state-owned UAC to restore the country’s aerospace industry to its ‘former glory days’. Russia’s ability to strike deals with friendly nations to buy project like MC-21 will mark the airline’s success, else their ambitious plan could run into rough weather.
According to American aviation consulting firm AirInsight, if the airliner meets all its specifications, then it’s a fine product that UAC has at its disposal which can disrupt the ‘duopoly’ of Boeing and Airbus. It further adds that MC-21 is totally capable of competing with the latest models A320 and the 737.
So far, 285 orders have been placed with the company, among which ‘firm orders (pre-paid contracts)’ have been placed for 185 planes. Countries like India, Bangladesh and Hungary ‘have shown interest’ in the aircraft, says UAC president Yuri Slyusar.
“We showed the aircraft [MC-21] in flight and we feel higher interest. We met delegations from different nations: Hungary, Bangladesh and India. The flying aircraft is a much more sensible product from the standpoint of promotion,” the top UAC executive said.