Main showpiece at MAKS-2019. MS-21-300 passenger aircraft

The MS-21 narrow-body aircraft has become the staple of the MAKS-2019 Aerospace Show held in Zhukovsky on August 27 through September 1.    

The MS-21 is presented to the wide audience for the first time at the MAKS International Aerospace Show. 


Author: Aleksandr Ermakov  

The upcoming narrow-body passenger aircraft MS-21 is probably the main staple of the MAKS-2019 Aerospace Show held in Zhukovsky near Moscow. 

The development of the new aircraft MS-21 is a most spectacular example of a traditional defence industry player entering the civil market. The Irkut Corporation accumulated engineering staff of the former Yakovlev Design Bureau and the production facilities of the Irkutsk Aviation Plant, previously mainly known for the Su-30, for MS-21 project implementation.

At MAKS-2019, the aircraft is presented to the wide audience for the first time in every detail (at the time of the previous show, in July 2017, only two months had passed since the first MS-21 flight, and the aircraft was still at an early stage of factory testing): all three aircraft passing through flight testing will take part in the show, including one aircraft in the flight program and one aircraft with the passenger cabin installed. On the first day of the show, the MS-21 was demonstrated to honored guests: Russian and Turkish Presidents. 

Also, a press conference reporting on the program status was held at the show. Over 200 flights have been made in total. The fourth aircraft, which is now at the equipment installation stage, will join the first three under test before the end of the year.

It is confirmed that the completion of certification testing and obtaining the main type certificate for the base design aircraft (equipped with American engines P&W1431G-JM) are planned for 2020. Delivery of this version to customers is planned for the second half of 2021.

Active work is carried out in order to increase the percentage of Russian components in the aircraft design. In April this year, an application was submitted for the commencement of testing in 2020, using Russian PD-14 engines on the fifth prototype that is being built now, with a view to obtain an additional certificate for the version with this power plant, planned for implementation in 2021. 

The engine has already passed through a test program including bench testing and testing on a flying laboratory based on the Il-76 aircraft, and was certified by the Federal Air Transport Agency. The aircraft version with the Russian engines is sometimes called the MS-21-310. It is planned that the first prototype will also be converted into this version.

Besides the base version MS-21-300 for 163 passengers in two classes (211 in the lowcoster version), a set of design documentation for the short MS-21-200 has been prepared. However, “-200” version implementation was, in fact, paused several years ago due to extremely low market demand for the lower versions in similar aircraft series. By contrast, a longer version with the “-400” code has been in active development, its preliminary design has been prepared, but a final decision concerning this version has not yet been made. 

It is planned that, if the situation with orders is positive, 72 MS-21 aircrafts per year will be manufactured by 2025. A small step towards this goal was taken during MAKS, when three memoranda of intent to purchase the MS-21 were signed, with the Russian airline Yakutia (five aircrafts), Kazakhstan-based Bek Air (10 aircrafts) and a certain unnamed purchaser (five aircrafts). Firm contracts for a total of 175 aircrafts have been signed so far.

In a situation of a natural decline in the number of state defence orders, bulk purchases, which were necessary for the replacement of obsolete Soviet aircraft, will not be required in the foreseeable future. With its bold undertaking, Irkut sets an example of military competence realization in the civil sector. 

Aleksandr Ermakov   
© “The New Defence Order. Strategy”

The narrow-body passenger aircraft MS-21-300 during press screening at the MAKS-2019 Aerospace Show


Our partners