Russian airframer Irkut is aiming to commission its final assembly line for the MC-21 in the first half of this year, following initiation of production for three test airframes.
Construction of the first eight stations of the assembly line is under way and all 60 are scheduled for completion in 2015. The line has been developed by German firm Durr Systems.
Irkut has begun production of the first three MC-21-300s, the baseline version of the twinjet which will have 180 seats.
Russian deputy trade and industry minister Yuri Slusar, during a visit to the Irkut plant, said the aircraft would be used for static and flight testing.
The first flight-test aircraft will be assembled by the end of 2015, he adds, and the plant is aiming eventually for a production rate of seven per month.
Preparation is also underway at other key production centres, Slusar says, notably at Ulyanovsk where the composite wing is being manufactured.
Slusar says the programme will receive Rb17 billion ($488 million) from the federal budget this year, and benefit from a credit line from Sberbank.
Irkut has not confirmed plans to rename the aircraft as the Yak-242 as previously indicated by another senior minister.
“At the present moment all the official documentation regarding the creation of the MC-21…contains only one name, MC-21,” says Irkut, which claims to have 175 firm orders for the twinjet.