Irkut Corporation has publically unveiled the prototype MC-21-300, an aircraft it hopes will capture a slice of the surging single-aisle market. The new jet, 21001 (c/n 001), was towed into a flight test hangar at the Russian manufacturer’s Irkutsk Aviation Plant in Eastern Siberia on June 8, in front of invited guests including Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev. The MC-21 has been designed as a successor to the Tupolev Tu-154 and is intended to compete with rivals from Canada and China challenging the narrowbody duopoly currently held by Airbus and Boeing.
Oleg Demchenko, President of Irkut Corporation said: “We managed to get together a team of like-minded colleagues, all of whom are leaders of domestic and world aviation industries. We are working together and we believe in the MC-21 being the best in its class. We have come a long way and here we are today”
During his address Medvedev claimed: “The creation of the MC-21 is a tremendous victory for the Russian aviation industry, a victory for Irkut Corporation, our scientists, designers, engineers and workers.” He went on to stress the importance of international co-operation on the project, but added that Russia had proven its ability to create the products with which to “propel its domestic aviation industry and compete with foreign manufacturers.”
Irkut says the MC-21 will initially be built in two versions – the -200 and -300 – seating 132 and 163 passengers respectively in a standard two-class configuration or 165 and 211 in a maximum all economy layout. A third family member of the family – dubbed the MC-21-400 – seating 240 passengers is still being discussed. According to the company’s own figures it has received 175 firm commitments for the MC-21 from operators in Russia and the Middle East including the launch order for 50 examples from Aeroflot.
No timeframe has been revealed for the first flight and the certification programme, but Irkut officials say the aircraft is scheduled to enter airline service by the end of 2018.