Delayed by trade sanctions, Russia’s new narrowbody jetliner, the MC-21, now seems set to enter service with Rossiya Russian Airlines in summer 2022. The carrier has announced that, after assurances from manufacturers, it has already begun training crew and developing a route network for the new planes. Meanwhile, international customers will have to wait until at least 2025, as Russia focuses on beating Airbus and Boeing on its home turf.

MC-21
The MC-21-300 could be making its commercial debut in a year’s time. Photo: Getty Images

Putin requesting industry responsibility

With MAKS 2021 currently in full swing in Moscow, it is understandable that the Russian government has been asking for updates and clarifications surrounding the nation’s aviation industry. During the air show’s opening, President Putin demanded that manufacturers of civilian aircraft and components define clear plans for production up until at least 2030.

He also said that all parties involved should clarify their responsibilities in terms of delivery times, prices, quality, and serviceability. Russia’s new narrowbody challenger, the Irkut MC-21, has seen significant delays to its program. This is, of course, not unusual for new aircraft projects.

However, the glitches in the MC-21 schedule were to a great extent influenced by US trade sanctions against Russia. These have caused 40% of the aircraft’s onboard equipment to have to be replaced. Meanwhile, they have also pushed Russia to begin producing its own composite materials for the aircraft’s so-called ‘black wing’.

Rossiya Boeing 737
Rossiya Russian Airlines has already begun preparing to operate the MC-21-300 in 2022. Photo: Getty Images

Rossiya has commenced preparations

The MC-21-300 was initially intended to enter service with Aeroflot in 2019. However, the task of launching the airliner has since been transferred to Rossiya Russian Airlines. The smaller sister carrier of the group is set to become a beacon for domestically built aircraft.

Rossiya announced last week that it is busy preparing pilots and cabin crew and developing maintenance models and route networks for the introduction of the new plane into the fleet by summer 2022.

In a statement to Russian news agency TASS, the airline said that,

“The airliners will start operating on the route network in the summer of 2022. The manufacturing company representatives assure that the first aircraft will be ready for delivery to Rossiya’s fleet in the spring of 2022.”

MC-21
Any international hopeful MC-21 operators will have to wait until after 2025 to get their hands on a plane. Photo: Getty Images

Only domestic deliveries until 2025

However, any international customer will have to wait a little longer. The head of Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade,  Denis Manturov, told TASS reporters on Tuesday that deliveries abroad – of both the MC-21 and the SSJ100 – would be possible only after 2025. Up until then, the priority is to get the planes out on the domestic market, Manturov said. Thus far, the only MC-21 order from outside of Russia has come from Azerbaijan Airlines.

Meanwhile, in an exclusive interview with Simple Flying’s Sumit Singh, Viktor Kladov, Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy of the State Corporation Rostec, revealed that the plan is for the MC-21 to replace Boeing and Airbus on the domestic market by the end of the decade.

The head of the United Aircraft Corporation recently informed President Putin that the company intends to build 36 MC-21s per year by 2025 – an output expected to double by 2027.

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