Irkut introduces Russia's new commercial plane at the MAKS 2019

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Moscow, Russia - Russian aircraft manufacturer Irkut Corporation introduced its new single-aisle jet to the potential customers at the MAKS 2019 Air Show (Aug 27 - Sept. 1st).

On Aug 28, Russia's commercial airplane manufacturer Irkut corporation unveiled its very first plane during the Air Show that was being held in Moscow.

The MC-21 is intended to compete with its western counterparts Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX. But it won't be an easy job for Russians due to the notorious Sukhoi Superjet (SSJ100) and western sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation.

Irkut's MC-21 is designed to accommodate up to 211 passengers and has a range of 6,000 kilometers (3,730 nautical miles) - enough to fly it from the Russian capital to any destination in Europe.

An-Irkut-Corp-MC-21-300-at-the-MAKS-2019
Irkut MC-21-300 is on display at the MAKS 2019

The aircraft has so far accumulated 175 firm orders mostly from the Russian airline operators. Irkut says the MC-21 will be remarkably cheaper than the A320neo and 737 MAX.

Could MC-21 be A320neo and 737 MAX killer?

The MC-21 made its first flight in 2017 and the aircraft was supposed to enter into service at the end of 2018. But it was delayed until 2021 due to sanctions that affected the supply of its US-made carbon composite wings and Pratt & Whitney engines.

If there is no further delay, we will see first MC-21-300s flying with the colors of the Russian flag carrier Aeroflot from the second half of 2021.

The three planes on display at the Moscow Air Show are powered by the Pratt & Whitney's engines, but the planes with later production will also be equipped with PD-14 engines produced by the Russian engine manufacturer Aviadvigatel.

Western sanctions against Russia have been gradually increased since 2014 due to Crimea conflict. Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine the same year.

This is a big obstacle for the manufacturer to find customers from outside of the country, which mainly targets Latin America, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia markets.

Another hurdle that Irkut has to overcome is the notoriety by the first Russian post-Soviet passenger jet, the Sukhoi Superjet (SSJ100). Although the aircraft was initially well-received by the customers, many of them gave up to operate the aircraft due to the servicing difficulty and the lack of some spare parts and backup engines.

The only active SSJ100 operator Mexican low-cost Interjet is currently in talks with the manufacturer to get rid of its Superjet fleet.

Aeroflot-SSJ100-crash-landing
Aeroflot SSJ100 crash landing in Moscow (May 5, 2019)

Several accidents have also contributed to the poor image of the Russian aerospace industry. Most recently, 41 people died due to the fire erupted on board of an Aeroflot SSJ100 after a crash-landing in Moscow on May 5, 2019.



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