Russia-based United Aircraft Corporation held an international presentation of its highly-anticipated new aircraft – the Irkut MC-21 – a $3.5 billion jet that is expected to rival the Airbus 320 and Boeing 737. He also said the new jet will be more efficient than the Boeings and Airbuses in its class.
The aircraft was produced with extensive use of composite materials in order to reduce empty plane weight. According to Irkut Corporation president Oleg Demchenko, the aircraft will have 15 percent better structural weight efficiency, 20 percent lower direct operating costs and 15 percent lower fuel consumption than the Airbus 320.
According to Aerotime, the initial design of the aircraft originally began with approximately 33 percent composite materials. That changed to roughly 40-45 percent in 2015, when composite wings were added to the aircraft with the help of Irkut supplier AeroComposit.
To fabricate the wing skins and wing box, AeroComposit copied a Diamond Aircraft and Fisher out-of-autoclave curing technique for a carbon fiber matrix strengthened with a resin transfer infusion process. If successful, the MC-21 will become the first commercial aircraft to enter service with an out-of-autoclave curing method for its primary structure.
“The MC-21, by its technology level … exceeds the existing airplanes and aircraft. I’m sure it will be a great aircraft: economical, safe and reliable. Today’s events confirm we are capable of building such aircraft that doesn’t only promote our airplane industry but we also compete with other countries,” Russia Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev said.
The two-engine MC-21 will be delivered in three basic versions, with passenger capacity ranging from 150 to 211 seats. The range capability of the aircraft will vary from 5,500 to 6,000 km (3,400-3,700 miles).
Flight tests for the MC-21 are set to begin by the end of 2016 and full certification is expected to be finished by the end of 2017. The corporation already has solid orders for 175 aircraft. The first client to receive MC-21 aircraft in late 2018 will be Aeroflot, which has ordered 50 units.
To see the full unveiling of the MC-21, watch the video below: