By Thiago Vinholes
New jetliner from Russia, the Irkut MC-21 is on “sale”. In an interview with TASS, Sergey Chemezov, CEO of Rostec, the state-owned company that controls the country’s technology manufacturers, revealed that the aircraft is on sale for 3 billion rubles, about US$ 37 million. However, the price is valid only for Aeroflot and other Russian airlines.
“The cost of the new MC-21 for Aeroflot and other carriers will be significantly lower than the market. This is a conscious measure by the State, which wants to reduce the burden on airlines and, consequently, on passengers. This is done specifically for a difficult time for the industry,” said Chemezov.
A news agency source noted that the value of the MC-21 for the local market could be half the price of a Boeing 737. “A similar Boeing costs 5-6 billion rubles,” the source said.
The Boeing equivalent to the MC-21 is the 737 MAX 8, which is valued at US$ 121.5 million, but may cost less, depending on the negotiation with the customer.
According to the CEO of Rostec, the Russian federation will also help in partially offsetting the costs of the Irkut aircraft. “The state will certainly help the aviation industry to partially offset the cost of aircraft. Similar approaches work in many countries, such as Europe or China, where authorities deliberately subsidize the cost of aircraft to carriers in order to maintain a price level competitive.”
In February, Aeroflot signed a contract with Rostec to acquire 18 MC-21 jets, with deliveries starting in the fourth quarter of 2024. The airline, which is Russia’s largest, plans to add up to 210 aircraft of the type by 2030, in addition to another 129 aircraft from the UAC group, controller of Irkut and other Russian manufacturers, such as Sukhoi and Ilyushin.
Technically, the MC-21 is one of the most advanced passenger aircraft in its segment, which also has models from the Airbus A320neo family and the C919, from the Chinese COMAC, in addition to the 737 MAX. Irkut’s aircraft, however, still needs to prove that it is efficient and safe before debuting on the market.
The launch of the new Russian jet already accumulates some delay, largely due to the economic sanctions imposed against Moscow due to the invasion of Ukraine.
Since the beginning of the conflict, Russia has been prevented from obtaining components imported from the West. The main issue is the engines of the first version of the MC-21, the -300 model, which used turbofans from Pratt & Whitney, a company that followed the embargo and cut off the equipment supply.
Without the imported engine, Irkut’s designers had to shift focus to the MC-21-310 version, which uses PD-14 engines produced locally by Aviadvigatel. The launch of this variant was scheduled for a second stage, after the debut of the MC-21-300, but with the war and sanctions, the model became the preferred one for the Russian market.