From Siberia with love: MC-21 in one step closer to Airbus/Boeing battle
The MC-21 airplane — a new Russian civil jetliner — has flown from Irkutsk to the Zhukovsky test facility, South-East of Moscow. The prototype airplane has covered 4,500 km during its 6h journey on a cruising altitude of 10 000 meters. Due to the test schedule it became the jet’s 21st flight, under the same parameters as a normal commercial trip. In Zhukovsky, MC-21 will perform the next phase of tests and certifications.
MC-21 rushes into the most competitive niche, shared by Airbus A320 and Boeing-737 airplanes — the industry proven medium-range workhorses. Besides Russia, there’s also China fighting for its share with it’s C919 airplane. The C919 took off for its second 166-minute test flight almost a month ago. The maiden flight took place on the 5th of May. Such a gap means, C919 was not 100% ready to fly. The rush was probably caused by the politics: C919 was 23 days «ahead» of MC-21.
After six months it's clear that the Russian design is more advanced compared to C919. Still, a layer of fog covers the market perspective for the two airplanes. Both the MC-21 and C919 programs are financially backed by governments and destined to serve domestic markets. Local airlines can only acquire these airplanes under pressure from the authorities and financing. The MC-21's position is also currently weakened by the US/EU sanctions imposed against Russia.
Photos: Leonid Faerberg (Transport-Photo Images)