Russia's first large airliner of the post-Soviet era takes flight

Irkut MC-21 2

Russia’s first large airliner since the fall of the Soviet Union made its maiden flight Sunday.

The Irkut MC-21 is actually designed to compete with the most well-known airliners from the planet, the single-aisle Boeing (BA) 737 in addition to also also Airbus (EADSF) A320.

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The prototype took flight Sunday morning via the Irkutsk Aviation Plant airfield in Siberia, about 2,0 miles east of Moscow. During the 30-minute flight, the plane reached an altitude of 1,000 meters (roughly 3,300 feet).

Oleg Kononenko, the flight’s lead test pilot, reported in which the aircraft operated normally.

The MC-21’s maiden flight was notably shorter than in which of its Chinese competitor in addition to also also various other similar aircraft, which have typically flown for an hour or longer in addition to also also at a higher altitude.

The flight comes ahead of the Paris Air Show, which starts June 18. Irkut hasn’t yet said whether the jet will be ready in time to make its international debut at the event.

The Russian aircraft’s debut is actually the latest in a series of aviation firsts in 2017. The unusually busy year has featured a parade of maiden flights by brand-new types via airplane makers around the planet.

Related: the planet’s brand-new planes in 2017

China’s brand-new challenge to Boeing in addition to also also Airbus, the Comac C919, made its first flight on May 5.

although while Russia is actually pushing the MC-21 with airlines around the planet as a way to improve its non-military aerospace exports, Comac has shown less interest in selling the C919 overseas.

Russia’s commercial aerospace industry has struggled over the past quarter century to regain the strength the item had during the Soviet era. Through projects backed by President Vladimir Putin, the item has sought to shed its reputation for advanced, although unreliable, passenger aircraft.

The country last week formalized a partnership with China to made a long-range twin-aisle airliner to compete with Boeing in addition to also also Airbus.

Related: China in addition to also also Russia are coming for Boeing in addition to also also Airbus

The MC-21 is actually required to start flying passengers in 2019 after the item completes testing.

Russian airline Aeroflot will be the first to fly the brand-new jetliner. The state-run carrier has relied heavily on Airbus in addition to also also Boeing jets as part of its modernization, although Russian policy has encouraged the introduction of homegrown types, like the MC-21.

Irkut MC-21 1
The Irkut MC-21 on its May 28, 2017 maiden flight.

Irkut says the MC-21, which seats 163 passengers in two classes, will be 12% to 15% less expensive to operate than its Western counterparts. The a new has taken 175 orders for the jet, which incorporates a range of about 3,500 nautical miles or 6,400 kilometers.

Irkut is actually an arm of the Russian state-owned aerospace conglomerate United Aircraft Corporation, which supplies the country’s airborne military hardware.

Related: China’s 1st big passenger jet completes maiden flight

Like the Chinese C919, the MC-21 has used many Western aerospace suppliers.

The jet took the sky on Sunday powered by two U.S.-made Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engines, which are also used by Airbus, Canada’s Bombardier in addition to also also Brazil’s Embraer.

Russia is actually developing a brand-new engine of its own for the MC-21.

While the Russian aerospace industry has lagged U.S. in addition to also also European companies, Airbus in addition to also also Boeing are closely watching the brand-new jet’s progress.

The MC-21 is actually packed with advanced carbon fiber technology in addition to also also flight controls in which haven’t yet made their way to Boeing in addition to also also Airbus aircraft.

sy88pgw (Seattle) First published May 29, 2017: 12:39 AM ET

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Russia's first large airliner of the post-Soviet era takes flight

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