Irkut Introduces MS-21 as Alternative to Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737 MAX
Russian aircraft manufacturer Irkut announced here yesterday that its MS-21 family of short- and medium-range twin-engine passenger jets (MS-21-200, -300 and -400) has now recorded orders for 235 airplanes. Among the customers are Russia-based Aeroflot, Ilyushin Finance and Rostechknologii, as well as Malaysia’s Crecom. Kirill Budaev, Irkut vice president, sales and marketing, said the aircraft is on schedule for its maiden flight in 2014, with European certification and first customer deliveries expected in 2017.
The MS-21 will compete with the new Airbus A320neo and Boeing’s 737 MAX, both using next-generation engines on their legacy airframes, but Irkut says its clean-sheet design will offer superior economy in purchase and operating costs over both aircraft. “A clean-sheet design is [what is needed] for competitiveness,” Budaev said. “You’re not able to achieve that where you just improve a program that is 50 years old.”
The Russian twinjet will feature composite wings and empennage and an aluminum fuselage. The fuselage is 25 percent wider than that of a 737 and 11 percent wider than an A320, and will still be lighter than either aircraft. The question most often asked about the design, Budaev said, is why the MC-21 doesn’t have winglets, given the design’s emphasis on efficiency. The high-aspect-ratio composite wings obviate the need for them, he said, the same reason the composite Boeing 787 has no winglets.
The second most frequently asked question, he said, was: given that Russia’s renown for aerodynamic engineering is not matched by a reputation for production quality and customer support, what is Irkut doing to address potential manufacturing and aftermarket support concerns? Budaev said the company is seeking international partners to assist in those areas.
The MS-21 series will have two engine options: the Russian PD-14, being developed by Aviadvigatel, and the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G, the same engine family that will power Bombardier’s CSeries.
In the cabin, the aisle width has been optimized to enable faster embarking and disembarking, reducing turn times and increasing flight time up to 142 hours annually on the -200 models. Larger cabin bins will take bigger carry-on luggage, reducing the need for passengers to check baggage and thereby reducing their travel time.
The cockpit will feature sidestick controls and an avionics suite with optional head-up display. Budaev also said the next-generation flight system would reduce pilot workload and be capable of supporting single-pilot operations, should they be approved in the future. The hold, with more space for revenue-generating cargo, is designed for easy loading and unloading.
The MS-21-200, with a 150-passenger capacity, is priced at $69 million, and the MC-21-300, with a 180-passenger capacity is priced at $78 million.