One of the most interesting things about creating a large database of side view aircraft templates is the fun (and challenging) requests I get. Case in point: 3 weeks ago I got a request from a reader asking me to create a set of templates for an Irkut MC-21-300. That was a real head-scratcher, since I (a self-anointed AvGeek extraordinaire) had never even heard of an “Irkut” before.
Of course, I accepted the challenge. I then scurried off to Wikipedia to make sure that someone wasn’t yanking my chain. Sure enough, just a few seconds of searching revealed that the MC-21-300 was indeed a real aircraft…and I wasn’t as much of a badass AvGeek as I thought I was.
Blank side view templates of the Irkut MC-21-300
Much like how fun and interesting it was to create a set of templates for the Comac C919 was, I had a lot of fun putting these illustrations together. The MC-21-300 (just like the C919) looks like a blend of many different aircraft types from Airbus and Boeing. Remember when Russian aircraft used to look cool? The Tu-154M was one of the best-looking aircraft designs of all time in my opinion.
It’s also worth noting how challenging it was to create accurate side view illustrations of the MC-21-300. There isn’t very much reference material out there – and I sure has heck have never seen one of these things in real life.
That being said, I did what I could with the amount of information I had, and I’m feeling confident that these illustrations are as accurate as they can be.
What Is an Irkut MC-21-300?
The MC-21-300 is a single-aisle aircraft designed by the Yakovlev Design Bureau. It is a twinjet aircraft powered by turbofans, and it will have carbon fiber reinforced polymer wings. The Russian company Irkut owns the design, and they are a branch of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).
The Irkut MC-21-300 has been affected by years of delays, following its initial design concept released in 2006. More detailed design work continued into 2011, with an introduction scheduled for 2012. The first Irkut MC-21-300 prototype rolled out on June 8, 2016, and its first flight took place on May 28, 2017.
Approximately 175 orders of Irkut MC-21-300 aircraft have been placed as of May 2021.
How much does an Irkut MC-21 cost?
In 2006, the initial design goal of the Irkut MC-21-300 had a supposed target price of US$35 million—this cost would have been US$20 million less than competitor aircraft such as the 737-700.
This initial design featured seating for up to 170 passengers for flight paths of between 2,700–3,430 nautical miles one way. The MC-21-300 would generally operate up to 25% more efficiently than its competitors, with 20% lower operating costs and a 15% decrease in fuel consumption. In 2008-2009, the general operational efficiency lowered from 25% to between 10-15% during the pre-design phase of the aircraft.
Russia’s protectionist policies towards restricting imports are said to have hampered Irkut’s access to western avionics, hydraulics, engines, power systems, and landing gear—all critical components to the design and operation of the MC-21-300.
- The current projected cost of the standard Irkut MC-21-300 is approximately US$91 million per unit, and the aircraft has two configurations. The two-class configuration has a capacity limit of up to 163 passengers, while the single-class configuration seats up to 211 passengers. The maximum range for this aircraft is 3,500 nautical miles one way.
- Irkut is also manufacturing a shortened version of the MC-21-300, called the MC-21-200. The per-unit cost of the MC-21-200 is projected to be US$72 million.
How Does the MC-21 Compare to a 737?
Boeing dominated the single-aisle aircraft market for decades until devastating crashes involving Boeing 737 Max aircraft made international headlines, causing the 737 Max to get grounded indefinitely in March 2019. The FAA and global regulators finally lifted the suspension orders on the 737 Max in November 2020.
The Boeing 737 Max aircraft line features four models in a two-class configuration: the Max 7, Max 8, Max 9, and Max 10. The 737 Max 7 seats up to 153 passengers, while the Max 10 seats up to 204 passengers. The 737 Max promises to deliver fuel reductions with its newer, larger, more aerodynamic CFM Leap 1B engines. The MC-21-300 flight range is similar to the Max 8, Max 9, and Max 10.
How Does the MC-21 Compare to an A320?
The Airbus.com link to its A320 family of aircraft lists them as the most comfortable, environmentally-friendly, and fuel-efficient aircraft in history. A320s boast cargo loading systems on their lower decks, supposedly the only single-aisle aircraft with that capability. The most impressive figure about A320 aircraft? Nearly 9,700 A320 have been sold and delivered, with a standing backlog of almost 6,000 aircraft.
The most favorable comparison of the Irkut MC-21-300 over the A320 or the 737 Max is its less expensive cost per unit. The A320neo is US$110.6 million, while the 737 Max 8 lists for almost US$122 million. However, there is a general assumption that airlines receive volume discounts on orders, resulting in overall cost decreases.
Other Interesting Facts About the Irkut MC-21-300
The A.S. Yakovlev Design Bureau, lead designers of the Irkut MC-21-300, have created almost 200 kinds of aircraft, including the first supersonic vertical-take-off-and-landing aircraft, the Yak-141.
The Irkut MC-21 aircraft will also be unusually distinct because its engines can be either American-made with Pratt & Whitney’s PW1000G geared turbofan or a Russian-produced engine known as the Aviadvigatel PD-14.
- As the lead contractor for the MC-21-300, the Irkut Corporation develops its aircraft systems at the Yakovlev Engineering Center and operates in the Russian cities of Ulyanovsk and Voronezh.
- The Irkut Corporation has dramatically revitalized the Irkutsk Aviation Plant in preparation for the mass production of the MC-21-300 aircraft, including automated lines, digitized technologies, and technical re-equipment.
- In Russian, the MC-21 means “mainline aircraft of the 21st century.”
- In January 2021, one of the MC-21-300 test aircraft experienced a “runway excursion” following a landing at Moscow Zhukovsky International Airport (ZIA). The primary cause of the runway excursion was the notably wintry conditions around the ZIA airport. None of the crew members were injured, but the aircraft got stuck in a snowbank off the runway.
- The MC-21-300 cabin features an active control handle instead of the passive handles in other planes of this class. An active control handle is electronically integrated to transfer between pilots as if a single mechanism controls the handle.
- Russia’s Aeroflot airlines hold the most orders (to date) on the MC-21-300.
- Two international airlines placed firm orders for Irkut MC-21-300 aircraft during it’s initial launch: Azerbaijan Airlines ordered ten units, while Cairo Airlines had ordered six aircraft (but Cairo Airlines has since ceased operations).