Russian MC-21 airliner shown off to public

The new MC-21 passenger airliner has been rolled out to the public for the first time in a ceremony in the Siberian city of Irkutsk.

Designed and built 100% in Russia by Irkut Corporation, a subsidiary of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the MC-21 aircraft is part of a push to revitalise the country’s aerospace sector.

The aircraft was unveiled to great fanfare at an event attended by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who praised the workers behind the project.

“The creation of MC-21 aircraft is the tremendous victory of aviation industry, the victory of Irkut Corporation, our scientists, designers, our engineers, and workers,” he said.

The aircraft itself is a medium-range passenger jet designed to fly up to 6400km before needed to refuel.

Irkut is offering the MC-21 in a number of sizes and configurations, including the MC-21-300 which will reportedly have between 160 and 211 seats, and the MC-21-200 with 130 to 165 seats.

With this range and capacity it would appear that the aircraft is designed to compete with the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737, together some of the best-selling aircraft in the world.

Irkut Corporation nonetheless believes that its MC-21 is superior to its competitors’ aircraft due to its more advanced design.

Rather than using aluminium which is popular in aircraft construction, the Russian craft makes partial use of composite materials, similar to Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner.

This combined with a number of other factors, makes their aircraft around 15% more energy efficient than its direct competitors according to Irkut.

The aircraft is also built slightly wider than the A320 and 737, meaning that two people can more easily pass each other in the central aisle.

Flight tests of the new aircraft are due to begin soon, and it will then begin serial production next year

Currently over 200 MC-21 aircraft are on order, not just for Russian airline companies, but also several international ones as well. Nonetheless, due to delays in the production process, the first aircraft deliveries are not expected until 2018 at the earliest.