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Russian minister says production of fifth MC-21 may start in 2017

The MC-21 conducted its maiden flight on May 28
MC-21-300 aircraft Marina Lystseva/TASS
MC-21-300 aircraft
© Marina Lystseva/TASS

MOSCOW, June 1. /TASS/.The Russian Industry and Trade Ministry expects that the production of the MC-21 short-and medium-haul narrow-body aircraft ("Mainline aircraft of the 21st century") to start in 2017. The fourth and fifth MC-21 planes are being constructed now, Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said in an interview with TASS today.

The first MC-21 narrowbody recently made its first flight, while the second model is undergoing tests in the Zhukovsky Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute.

"The first plane performed its test flight, and the second plane is being tested in the Zhukovsky Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute. The third and the fourth narrowbodies are being constructed now. We plan to start constructing the fifth and following planes this year," the minister stated.

Manturov also noted that it intended to complete all tests, certify the plane and start deliveries in 2019.

The MC-21 conducted its maiden flight on May 28, carrying the "Heroes of Russia" crew commander Oleg Kononenko and co-pilot Roman Taskayev. Lasting only 30 minutes, the flight took the airliner to an altitude of 1,000 meters and a speed of 300 km/hour. The flight plan included aerodynamic stability and controllability checks as well as engine control tests, and the crew performed a simulated landing approach, followed by a fly-over the runway and ascending and turning maneuvers.

MC-21’s history and features

The MC-21 airliner is being developed by Yakovlev Design Bureau (which is part of the United Aircraft Corporation ) and the Irkut aircraft manufacturer on the basis of the Yak-242 project that was abandoned in the 1990s.

In 2003, the now-defunct Russian Airspace Agency held a tender for the development of short-and medium-haul aircraft which was won by the MC-14 project.

It was initially planned to name the airliner, the Yak-242, but later this name was dropped for MC-21, as the latter was considered a better version for the global market.

The designers say that the MC-21 is to replace the aging Tu-154 fleet and fully compete with Boeing’s and Airbus’ production (Boeing 737MAX and Airbus A320 neo).

Plans are in store to produce two of the plane’s versions: the MC-21-200, which will carry 132 to 165 passengers, and the MC-21-300, which will carry 163 to 211 passengers. It was the MC-21-300 that made its first flight.

Who will take to the skies in the MC-21?

Currently, Irkut has 286 orders for the MC-21 aircraft. Of this number, final contracts were inked for the delivery of 175 aircraft while contracts for another 110 planes are preliminary agreements.

The first client is Russia’s Aeroflot, which plans to have 50 MC-21s in its fleet. As the airline’s CEO, Vitaly Savelyev, earlier said, the company expects the first three airliners in 2019 (instead of late 2018, as was initially planned).