Exports of the wholly Russian-made MC-21 jetliner to Malaysia, which has signed a “soft” agreement to buy the airplane, may start in 2023, Industry and Trade minister Denis Manturov said on Monday in an interview for TV channel Rossiya-24.
“Commercial deliveries will start in 2021. We will start deliveries to Russian operators and CIS countries at first. Customers from non-CIS countries …will target during 2023-2024. These are countries of Southeast Asia and Malaysia,” Manturov was quoted as saying in Russian media.
The current problems with Boeing 737 Max with airline operators not picking up ordered jets may accelerate sales prospects of the MC-21 due to growing demand for single-aisle airliners and not enough supply, the minister noted.
But the airliner must first complete its Russian and European certification process; the plane is currently undergoing trials and will be certified in Russia in 2020. The Russian certificate will be later validated in the European market.
The MC-21 is being developed and manufactured by Irkut Corporation (a subsidiary of state-run conglomerate UAC). Its manufacturer claims a series of innovative features which result in more passengers (up to 211), more aisle and luggage space and better fuel economy as compared to competing planes from Boeing and Airbus.
Malaysian Premier Mahathir Mohamed is looking to save money on big ticket purchases and going with Russian aviation and defence products is one such measure.
Russia and Malaysia signed a “soft” (non-binding, no advance payment) contract in October for the supply of ten MC-21 aircraft at the stage of preparation for its serial production in October. A state loan for the purchase of the aircraft has been discussed, according to reports.