Just to close the loop on the not so subtle intersection of Russian aircraft and politics, Aeroflot announced today it intended to begin taking deliveries of the 150-seat Irkut MS-21 starting in 2016, which appears to make the carrier the launch customer for the type.
In a letter to Putin, chief executive Valery Savelyev specifies the airline's acquisition plans up to 2020. Aeroflot says it aims to acquire 40 Sukhoi Superjet 100s, 11 Antonov An-148s and 25 An-140s before 2016. The aircraft will be used to modernise the fleets of Aeroflot and six associate carriers, of which it is taking over management control.While I don't speak a word of Russian, Irkut's MC-21 highly-stylized marketing video provides an interesting look at the plans for the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G-powered aircraft with its three-variant family. The initial 150-seat MS-21-200 will seat 150, the -300 with capacity for 180 passengers, and the -400 with seating up to 210. The 300 appears to be a simple stretch of the fuselage, while the -400 will incorporate a further fuselage stretch and an expanded wing span, leading and trailing edge.
In addition, Savelyev says Aeroflot is prepared to take up to 50 MS-21s between 2016 and 2020. This all-new airliner is designed to be a viable Russian alternative to the existing single-aisles from Airbus and Boeing in the 130- to 190-seat category, and is due to enter service in around five years.