The MS-21 will compete with the new Airbus A320neo and Boeing’s 737 MAX, both using next-generation engines on their legacy airframes, but Irkut says its clean-sheet design will offer superior economy in purchase and operating costs over both aircraft. “A clean-sheet design is [what is needed] for competitiveness,” Budaev said. “You’re not able to achieve that where you just improve a program that is 50 years old.” The Russian twinjet will feature composite wings and empennage and an aluminum fuselage. The fuselage is 25 percent wider than that of a 737 and 11 percent wider than an A320, and will still be lighter than either aircraft. The question most often asked about the design, Budaev said, is why the MC-21 doesn’t have winglets, given the design’s emphasis on efficiency. The high-aspect-ratio composite wings obviate the need for them, he said, the same reason the composite Boeing 787 has no winglets.
The second most frequently asked question, he said, was: given that Russia’s renown for aerodynamic engineering is not matched by a reputation for production quality and customer support, what is Irkut doing to address potential manufacturing and aftermarket support concerns? Budaev said the company is seeking international partners to assist in those areas.
The MS-21 series will have two engine options: the Russian PD-14, being developed by Aviadvigatel, and the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G, the same engine family that will power Bombardier’s CSeries.
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