The MC-21 is Russia’s next-generation commercial aircraft set to compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. The Russian airliner which is currently under-development by Irkut Corporation –a member of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) – is expected to hit the aviation market by 2021.
UAC has high hopes for its commercial airliner –with a range of 6000km– and expects it to outperform other medium-haul aircraft such as the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320. It ‘claims’ reduced operating costs; better passenger comfort; and compliance with all prospective environmental regulations.
Models of the MC-21
There are two variants of the MC-21 that are in the prototyping phase. The MC-21-200, which could accommodate 176 passengers; and the MC-21-300, that could carry 211 passengers.
Initially, Irkut Corporation offered the aircraft with two engine types. Either, the PW1400G, manufactured by Pratt&Whitney (USA), or the PD-14 manufactured by UEC (Russia). However, the Russian Aerospace company has shied away from the PW1400G engines due to US sanctions being imposed on the country. In fact, mass production of the PD-14 is already underway. The PD-14 engine is currently undergoing flight, bench, engineering, and certification tests.
From its maiden test flight in 2017, the MC-21 has certainly come a long way in its development cycle. Irkut Corporation is currently pursuing flight certifications for its airliner. As such, the fourth MC-21-300 FTV (Flight test Vehicle) completed a non-stop test flight on March 17th, 2020. During the test flight, the aircraft flew with a ‘high-density configuration’ and 172 passenger seats; while test engineers occupied the tail-end. Before future certification tests, 39 additional seats will be further added.
Irkut’s chief designer Oleg Demchenko has stated that the company aims to market its new aircraft to airlines of Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia region. Russia’s national carrier Aeroflot has already pledged 50 MC-21s, which are expected to be delivered next year. In last year’s MAKS Airshow, Bek Air and Yakutia Airlines also expressed an interest in purchasing the MC-21.
But the question remains, will the MC-21 outlive the hype and give its competition a run for its money? Or will it fail to deliver on what Irkut Corporation expects from it?