• Chidozie Uzoezie

Russia To challenge Boeing And Airbus With MC-21

Russia's Irkut unveiled a new medium-range passenger plane which state media said was superior to its Western-made counterparts in many respects and would be snapped up by both Russian and foreign carriers.

In a ceremony at a factory in Siberia attended by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Irkut rolled out its new MC-21 passenger plane which is still undergoing testing but is due to enter production next year.

Medvedev hailed the new twin-engine short and medium-range aircraft as "cool," saying it was important that Russia remained in what he called the top league of aircraft makers despite the high costs involved.

Squeezed by Western sanctions over its role in the Ukraine crisis, the Russian government is trying to rejuvenate domestic industrial production to make the country less dependent on foreign firms.

The plane will be built in two variants, the MC-21-200 which will have 130-165 seats, and the MC-21-300 which will have 160-211 seats. Deliveries are expected to start in 2018.

The new plane would be able to service routes of up to 6,400 km (3970 miles) and that its operational costs would be up to 15 percent cheaper than current generation aircraft.

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