MC-21 airliner makes first test flight

MC-21 airliner makes first test flight

MC-21 short-and medium-haul passenger plane made the first flight in Irkutsk, a source at the Irkutsk aviation plant (the Irkut Corporation) said on Sunday. "The plane was successful," the source said, refusing from further comments, TASS reports.

Witnesses have posted a few recordings on Youtube. One of the videos shows the plane fly above the audience, which welcomed it with applauses. 

The Irkut Corporation, which designed the new airliner, is part of the United Aircraft Corporation. The MC-21 is the family of short-and medium-haul narrow-body airliners intended to replace Tupolev Tu-134 and Tu-154 planes and also their Western rivals. In Russia’s new history, only one airliner, the regional Sukhoi Superjet 100, has been manufactured from scratch. The plane performed the first flight in 2008 and was made operational in 2011.

The MC-21 has a flight range of 6,400 kilometers (3,977 miles), while the Sukhoi Superjet 100 can fly at a distance of 4,578 kilometers (2,845 miles). The MC-21 will be able to carry 211 passengers, while the Sukhoi Superjet 100 airliner’s seating capacity is 108. The first flight of the MC-21 airliner was scheduled for December 2016 and its serial assembly was planned to begin in 2017. Later, the first flight was postponed to April and then to late May.

The current portfolio of orders for MC-21 is 285 airliners, 185 of which have been contracted on prepayment. The first client is Russia’s Aeroflot, which plans to have 50 MC-21 in its fleet. In April, the company’s director general, Vitaly Savelyev, said they expect first three airliners in 2019.

Russia may supply 1,000 of its newest MC-21 planes to 2037, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov said on Sunday.

"Meeting the announced technical and economic criteria, organization of the effective modern integrated logistic support and after-sale service, as well as formation of attractive financial sales models will mean reaching the total supplies of more than 1,000 of MC-21 to 2037," the ministry quoted the official.

By using the Russian plane, aviation companies may cut by 12-15% their exploitation expenses against other planes of similar classes, or by 6-7% if compared against their modernized versions, the minister added. The reason is MC-21 is "the most up-to-date product in the world" in its class, he added.

He called the plane’s first flight "a historic event for the global market of aircraft."

"The project has used the best design solutions, technologies, and practices," the minister continued, adding the gained experience would serve Russia’s better positions as a leader on the global aircraft market.

"Further on would be a program of tests and Russian and international certification," he said. "We shall continue supporting the MC-21 project, including in structuring effective mechanism to promote the new plane both on the international and domestic markets."

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin informed Russia’s President Vladimir Putin about the first flight of Russia’s new medium-haul passenger plane. The president congratulated the producers and all personnel of the sector with this event, the president’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov said.

"Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin reported to the president on the phone, saying our medium-haul plane made the first test flight," Peskov said.

"The country leader has called president of the Irkut Corporation, head of the Yakovlev Bureau Oleg Demchenko, greeting him, the corporation’s staff and the sector’s personnel with this outstanding event," the press secretary added.