The Irkut MC-21 program, which is developing a family of single-aisle airliners, is on track to meet its current development schedule, according to officials of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC, Chalet B10 and Hall 1 Stand E8), at the Farnborough Airshow.
Among milestones reached and planned are assembly of the first MC-21 starting late this year or early 2015; first flight at the end of 2015 or early 2016; and entry into service in late 2017.
But Kirill Budaev, v-p sales and marketing for the Irkut Corporation, a UAC subsidiary, added a caveat. “In all reality, [the schedule] could shift. A lot remains to go through, and there are a lot of factors beyond our control,” he said. “All the programs of our competitors failed to meet initial schedules.”
The MC-21 family, comprised of the MC-21-200 (130-176 pax) and -300 (160-212 pax), is designed to be wider, yet more economical to operate than competing Bombardier CSeries jets, the Boeing 737 MAX or Airbus A320Neo. (A planned MC-100 has been shelved due to lack of market demand for lower capacity jets in the category.) The fuselage is metal and the wings and empennage are composite.
Budaev said the infusion composite construction technology UAC employs results in parts that weigh 10 percent less and are 30 percent less costly to produce than those made by the autoclave process used to manufacture parts for the Boeing 787.
The aircraft will be powered by Pratt & Whitney’s new PW1400G Geared Turbofan engine (with the Aviadvigatel PD-14 is an option). Budaev said UAC and P&W have been in close contact regarding the recent engine fire that occurred in the CSeries development program “We do not see a huge problem” as the fire did not involve the innovative gear technologies, Budaev said, and there is ample time to resolve the situation before the MC-21’s first flight.
Other international partners include U.S.-based Zodiac Aerospace, which is providing the interior, and Alcoa, AkzoNobel and PPG Aerospace. “We call it the international plane with Russian brains,” Badaev said.
The MC-21-300 will enter service first, with the MC-21-200 following a year later. The company reports firm orders for 175 aircraft, most from Russia-based leasing companies, with options and letters of intent for an additional 101, but no firm orders from operators outside Russia and the CIS. UAC forecasts 1,000 orders from now until 2030, with 70 percent coming from outside Russia and CIS. Financing programs from VEB, the Russian development bank, and EXIAR, the nation’s export insurance agency, are available.
Though the current situation in the Ukraine is straining relations between Russia and the West, Budaev said geopolitical maneuvering will not impact the aircraft’s future sales. “We do not feel the influence of politics,” he said. The company is also considering creating a name to augment the aircraft’s numerical designation.
“We tried to find an emotional name” that would capture the aircraft’s expansive size, and had come up with “New-Body,” in place of wide-body. “It’s not official,” he said, “it’s under discussion.”