Russia’s MC-21 – How Does It Actually Compare With The A320neo?

Irkut’s upcoming MC-21 jetliner has been tipped as a potential competitor for existing next-generation narrowbodies like the Airbus…

Russia’s MC-21 – How Does It Actually Compare With The A320neo?

Irkut’s upcoming MC-21 jetliner has been tipped as a potential competitor for existing next-generation narrowbodies like the Airbus A320neo family. The project has been in the works since 2006, and the aircraft is finally set to enter commercial service next year. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how exactly it compares to the A320neo series.

The MC-21 made its first test flight over four years ago, in May 2017. Photo: UAC

The MC-21-200 vs the A319neo

Let’s start by taking a look at the MC-21‘s smallest variant, the MC-21-200, which we shall compare with the Airbus A319neo. This is also the A320neo family’s smallest variant as the European manufacturer has not produced a next-generation A318neo.

Despite both being the smallest variant of their respective families, there is a slight difference in size between these aircraft. The MC-21-200 comes out around three meters longer than its Airbus counterpart, measuring 36.8 meters vs the A319neo’s 33.84 meters.

However, in a two-class setup, it has fewer seats than the A319neo (132 vs 140). That being said, its 165-seat one-class maximum capacity is slightly higher than the 160 that the A319neo can hold in this configuration. But how do they compare in terms of range?

Spirit Airbus A319
The A319neo has received few orders. Spirit is one of its only customers to date. Photo: Getty Images

The A319neo has the edge in terms of the distance it can fly non-stop. Indeed, it has a range of 6,950 km / 3,753 NM (140-passenger configuration), compared to 6,400 km (3,456 NM) for the MC-21. Could this prove the difference for prospective customers?

Stay informed:  for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

The MC-21-300 vs the A320neo

The larger MC-21-300 is the standard version of the Russian narrowbody. As we have established, there is little to separate the smaller variants, but how does it compare to the larger A320neo? Once again, it is a case of its two-class capacity being lower (163 seats vs 165 seats) than its Airbus equivalent despite being a longer aircraft (42.2 vs 37.57 meters).

Frontier Airbus A320neo
The A320neo has sold incredibly well. Its popularity will provide a challenge for designs like the MC-21. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

However, it is also the case that its one-class maximum capacity is higher than its Airbus counterpart, peaking at 211 passengers compared to 195. The MC-21-300 is actually closer in length to the A321neo (44.51 meters), although this variant comfortably outperforms the Russian design in terms of capacity (206 two-class, 244 one-class).

Continuing the trend from the smaller aircraft, the Airbus design once again has a slight edge in terms of range. The A320neo can fly for up to 6,500 km (3,510 NM) non-stop in its two-class setup. Meanwhile, the MC-21-300 has a range of 6,000 km (3,240 NM).

Conclusion

On paper, we can see that the MC-21‘s two variants hold up fairly well against comparable designs from the A320neo family. On paper, its higher one-class capacity could make it a solid choice for low-cost airlines operating high-density configurations.

MC-21
The MC-21 has relatively few orders, and even fewer from outside Russia. Photo: Getty Images

However, looking at the two aircraft’s respective order books, the MC-21 lags conspicuously behind the A320neo family. Of course, the Airbus design has already been in service for over five years. Nonetheless, the difference in popularity levels is striking.

Overall, the A320neo family has received 7,400 orders. Of these, Airbus has delivered 1,782 to date, meaning it will only become a more common sight going forward. On the other hand, the MC-21 series has received just 175 orders, with all customers but one (Azerbaijan Airlines) being Russian. As such, while it looks set to do well in its home market, the aircraft seems unlikely to match the A320neo’s single-aisle success levels on the world stage.

Are you looking forward to seeing the MC-21 enter service next year? How much of a challenge do you think it will pose to the A320neo? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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Russia Working On AN-124 Replacement: Dubbed ‘Slon’ or ‘Elephant’

For a few years now, Russia’s Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute has been working on an aircraft to fill the role…

Russia Working On AN-124 Replacement: Dubbed ‘Slon’ or ‘Elephant’

For a few years now, Russia’s Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute has been working on an aircraft to fill the role of the Antonov An-124 heavy lifter. First unveiled as a model in 2019,  what can we expect from this aircraft named the ‘слон’ (slon) or ‘elephant’?

The An-124 has been one of the main go-to aircraft for transporting extra large and heavy equipment. Photo: Getty Images

Replacing the An-124

It was back in November 2019 that we first saw a clear vision of Russia’s plan to replace the An-124. The Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) showed off a model of their heavy-load transport aircraft named ‘Slon,’ Russian for ‘Elephant.’

Just like the An-124, Slon will be used to transport heavy and large-size cargo. Here’s what is planned for this new large aircraft:

  • Its range is targeted to be 7,000 km (4,350 miles)
  • The aircraft will have a speed of 850 km/h (528mph).
  • The maximum payload will be 50% more than the An-124, 180 tons compared to 120 tons.
  • Finally, the aircraft will require a runway of three kilometers.

“The work is carried out under a governmental contract with the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation within the framework of Magistral-technologies (Highway-technologies) R&D program.” -TsAGI

Like the An-124, the Slon will also be powered by four engines and have a ‘high wing’ design- with the wings mounted on the upper fuselage. Slon’s engines, however, are set to be Russian Aviadvigatel PD-35 advanced ducted-fan engines.

An initial model of the Slon was released in 2019. Photo: TsAGI Press Service

Stay informed:  for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.

Aerodynamic testing during 2020

With the model made public in late 2019, TsAGI spent a good portion of 2020 conducting aerodynamic testing. In July 2020, the firm announced it was in the second stage of testing, where the scientists of the institute “analyzed the aerodynamic characteristics of the model at low flight speeds in the longitudinal and lateral channels in the wind tunnel T-102.”

“We were able to study the behavior of the aircraft model at different slip angles, determine the effectiveness of the elevators and rudders, and also evaluate the influence of the assembly elements on the lateral stability of the aircraft at low flight speeds. The results obtained have confirmed the stated design characteristics,” -Alexander Krutov, Junior Researcher, TsAGI

Wind tunnel testing of the Slon model has been ongoing. Photo: TsAGI Press Service

TsAGI noted at the time that this stage of tests would be completed in 2020, with work in 2021 focused on improving the aerodynamic layout based on the test results. Design, take-off and landing mechanization of the aircraft wing and further wind tunnel research would also take place in 2021.

Filling an important niche

Alexander Krutov, a Junior Researcher at TsAGI, also notes that after the gradual decommissioning of the An-124 Ruslan, “a niche will be formed that can be filled with a new aircraft built on the basis of promising technologies.” Krutov believes that civilian cargo companies will become the main customer of the new aircraft. However, it is also expected that the military will be able to transport their cargo with this aircraft, complementing the operations of An-124s still in service.

When do you think this mammoth aircraft will finally become a reality? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Source : Simple Flying More   

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