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MC-21: prototype to be ready by year end

MC-21The key advanced mid-term airliner programme being pursued by Russia's aircraft industry is the development of the MC-21 new-generation narrow-body short/medium-range airliner family designed to compete the best Western airliners in the class, the Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737MAX. Under the Russian President's directive dated 6 June 2010, Irkut Corp. became the prime contractor for the development and production of the MC-21. Prototypes and production-standard aircraft of the MC-21 family will be built by the Irkutsk Aviation Plant, a subsidiary of the Irkut Corp.

The plant has been tasked with the manufacture of the fuselage and final assembly of the aircraft. The fuselage metal panels, tail section and composite empennage will be supplied by the Ulyanovsk-based Aviastar-SP plant, composite fuselage midsection panels, spars and integral wing panels by the AeroComposit-Ulyanovsk, composite leading and trailing edges, wing high-lift devices and elevators by the Kazan-based KAPO-Composit JSC. VASO plant (Voronezh) will deliver engine pylons, landing gear doors, wing and flaps fairings, etc.

Last year, the first stage of the aircraft automated assembly line using up-to-date digital technologies was installed at Irkutsk Aviation Plant. The latest equipment will allow the production of up to 70 MC-21s a year in the future.

The airliner's baseline model is the 180-seat MC-21-300 that can seat 160 to 212 passengers depending on a layout of the cabin. Concurrently, the shorter 130-165-seat MC-21-200 version is in development, with the MC-21-400 stretch being a possibility.

The first prototype of the MC-21-300 is to be assembled and rolled-out by the end of 2015 and to have a maiden flight in the first half of 2016. Four flying prototypes as well as static and endurance tests examples will take part in certification programme to be finished by 2018.

The MC-21's firm order book now includes 175 aircraft. 50 of them had been ordered by the Aviacapital-Service leasing company for Aeroflot and 35, powered by PD-14 engines, for governmental agencies. 50 aircraft had been ordered by the Ilyushin Finance leasing company and 30 more - by VEB-Leasing. In addition, Irkut has had a direct contract with the IrAero airline for 10 aircraft.

(Photo: Irkut)

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