The debut of the new Russian MC-21 jetliner in 2022 will take place with Rossiya Airlines, said Kirill Budaev, vice president of sales and marketing at UAC, the holding that controls Irkut, the aircraft’s manufacturer.
The announcement was made on Thursday during a conference in Russia, according to Izvestia newspaper. Rossiya is currently a subsidiary of Aeroflot, after merging with other airlines in 2016.
The company plays an important role in Russia, being considered the second largest carrier in the country.
Budaev said flight tests are progressing rapidly and that Irkut is working in partnership with Rossiya to prepare for the aircraft’s debut.
“We have four planes flying. As part of the certification, a full flight performance assessment has already been carried out and a take-off and landing performance assessment is being completed. The plane has also been tested on a runway covered with water and snow,” said Budaev.
Irkut has already started assembling two series planes, having received the first set of wings in composite material weeks ago. Three other MC-21s are currently in different stages of assembly.
The first six MC-21s are expected to debut with Pratt & Whitney PW1431G engines at first. The UAC received some units before Western embargoes banned the turbofan shipment.
Russia is parallel developing the PD-14 engine, which flew in December in the test plane MC-21-310, but it seems unlikely that the indigenous turbofan will be at a reliable level until the aircraft are delivered next year.
The MC-21-300 is the first variant of the jetliner, with a capacity between 150 and 211 seats. The model took its first flight in 2017, but the program was delayed after the boycott of Western suppliers.
To overcome the restrictions, UAC is replacing about 40% of the components with items made in Russia.