Singapore Air Show

Irkut Displays Full-Scale Mockup of MC-21

 - February 14, 2012, 5:15 AM
Irkut's full-scale mockup of its nascent MC-21 short- to medium-range midsize airliner is on display at the Singapore Airshow. Photo by Mark Wagner.

Irkut has brought a full-scale mockup of its nascent MC-21 short- to medium-range midsize airliner to Singapore, giving visitors their first chance to see up-close the shape of things to come in the design of Russian civil aircraft. Characterized by a particularly wide fuselage, the MC-21 also features advanced aerodynamics, extensive use of composites and two modern engine choices–either the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbofan or the Aviadvigatel PD-14–all meant to decrease direct operating costs by 12 to 15 percent compared with existing airplanes in the same category. The fuselage is 25 percent wider than that of a 737 and 11 percent wider than that of an A320, even though it would weigh less than either of the established aircraft.

“Each MC-21 aircraft will provide its operator with $4 million to $5 million of additional profit annually,” according to Irkut vice president Kiryll Budaev. Irkut is a subsidiary of Russia’s United Aircraft Corp.

Benefiting from “intense international cooperation,” the MC-21 brings together companies from Russia, the U.S. and Europe, he said. For example, the wing, under development by Austria’s Diamond, will make extensive use of new carbon-infusion technologies. This January the wing’s prototype passed durability tests “quite successfully,” said Budaev.

“By using state-of-the-art composites, the MC-21 will surpass the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 considerably,” said Budaev, who added that it would allow a decreased weight and a wider fuselage. Scheduled for first flight in 2014, the MC-21 is due to gain certification in 2017.

Plans for the cockpit include sidestick controls and an avionics suite with an optional head-up display. Irkut claims the next-generation flight system will reduce pilot workload and support single-pilot operations, should they win approval in the future.

Irkut (Booth V87) counts orders totaling 235 MC-21s, almost half of which it describes as “firm.” Here in the Asia Pacific region, it has approached Malaysian companies–particularly those that specialize in composites manufacturing–to participate in the program. Russia has proposed a program offset with its Su-30MKM fighter for the Malaysian RAF.

Irkut has set a list price of $69 million for the 150-passenger MS-21-200 and $78 million for the 180-seat MS-21-300. The company is showing the MC-21 cockpit and passenger cabin in a separate pavilion on the static display line.