MIAMI – With passenger traffic slowly increasing, Russia’s Irkut MC-21-300 (Иркут МС-21) is all set to take it to the skies. The aircraft is ready to lift off by the end of the year, with locally made engines.

Built by United Aircraft Corporation’s (UAC) branch, Irkut Corporation, the aircraft is the country’s entry into the narrowbody market, competing with the Boeing 737 MAX-8 and Airbus A320neo.

The MC-21-300 had already completed its initial test flights. However, those were with the Pratt & Whitney 1000G (PW1000G) series engine.

At present, the Airbus A320 Neo, A220, Mitsubishi Spacejet, and Embraer’s second-generation E-jets, fly with the PW1000G engine.

The new tests will be conducted with the locally produced Russian Aviadvigatel PD-14 engine, which are currently in the ground testing stage.

“Our latest event in this year will be with the domestic PD-14 [engine]. We should complete this work by the end of the year. Engines have already been mounted on the aircraft in Irkutsk; required checks are performed at present, and the new MC-21 aircraft with the state-of-the-art PD-14 engine will take off” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UAC, Mr. Yuri Slyusar said at a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Irkut MC-21 Unveiling. Photo: Wiki Commons

The Aviadvigatel PD-14 Engine: A Smart Move

Russia’s intention behind a locally produced engine is very clear. The country wants to maintain complete control over its supply chain, and does not want to be dependent on anyone.

This also ensures readily available spare parts for repairs, allowing for quick and easy maintainence of the aircraft.

Local production would also ensure quicker delivery times for the aircraft as everything is ‘Made at home.’

This would also support the local market of the country and will leave everyone with a proud 100% Russian built aircraft.

Irkut MC-21 Cabin. Photo: Wiki Commons

The Need for a New Jet

The projections continue to show the aviation industry growing at a quick pace. With passenger flow, new routes, and new opportunities all increasing, the demand for aircraft is set to rise.

However, backlogs continue to exist with both Boeing and Airbus for their narrowbody fleet.

This backlog leaves a huge gap in the market that needs to be filled. The MC-21-300 be perfect for this opportunity, especially around the Russian market.

Aeroflot (SU) has already placed an order for 50 of these aircraft, with an additional 35 option for 35 more.

“[Aeroflot will buy] 200 domestically produced SSJ 100 and MC-21 airplanes should become operational by 2026, the fleet should amount to approximately 520 airplanes to deliver the target passenger traffic,” Aeroflot told TASS.

Maiden flight of the MC-21. Photo: Wiki Commons

The MAX/NEO Alternative?

The MC-21-300 fits perfectly well into the market when compared to the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320 NEO. Here are some numbers for the aircraft:

  • The MC-21-300 can fly up to 211 passengers in a high-density configuration (28 inches seat pitch) to a range of 6,000 km (3,200 nautical miles).
  • The Airbus A320neo can fly 195 passengers in a crushing high-density configuration (27 inches seat pitch) to a range of 6,500 km (3,500 nautical miles).
  • The Boeing 737 MAX 8 can fly 200 passengers (28 inches seat pitch) to a range of 3,550 nautical miles (6,570 km).

Having a similar range and passenger count to its competitors, the aircraft surely looks promising for the European market.

The aircraft certainly looks promising compared to its American counterpart Boeing 737 MAX 8, set to return to the skies soon. Only once the aircraft is out will we see its true worth. Wishing it blue skies!