MC-21 goes into production

Russia’s Irkut Corporation is assembling the first prototype of its MC-21 airliner
Assembly of an MC-21 fuselage section in Irkutsk
Assembly of an MC-21 fuselage section in Irkutsk // Irkut Corporation

Russia is making a serious effort to return to the commercial narrowbody market with a major domestic project. The Irkut MC-21 commercial airliner is the first such program since the collapse of the USSR. It involves numerous international suppliers and is backed by orders from Russia’s largest government-owned leasing companies. The program has now entered the production stage as the first prototypes are being assembled.

According to sources at the program integrator Irkut Corporation, a subsidiary of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), assembly of the first MC-21 prototype began this spring at the Irkutsk-based aviation facility. Three airframes have been laid down: one for ground testing and two flying prototypes. All three are expected to be completed in 2015.

The prototypes are for the MC-21-300 variant, seating 163 in a two-class layout or 211 in the high-density version. This modification should be certified in 2017; deliveries to the launch customer, Russia’s largest carrier Aeroflot, are to follow from 2018.

The shortened modification, the MC-21-200, will seat 135-176 passengers. Development of this variant is lagging behind due to lower demand, Irkut officials explain. The aircraft is currently at the design stage. A decision on the MC-21-400 stretch, designed to carry up to 230 passengers, should be taken within the UAC at a later date. In the meantime, Irkut does not confirm having given up on the MC-21-400, a company source stresses.

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