Russia's United Aircraft is aiming to firm an agreement for lessor VEB-Leasing to acquire 30 Irkut MC-21 aircraft by the end of this year, after the two sides signed a letter of intent.
Irkut values the potential order at $2.5 billion at catalogue prices.
The airframer has formally branded the twinjet as the MC-21, attempting to sidestep confusion over the transliteration of the aircraft's designator from Russian to English.
VEB will start receiving the aircraft in 2018, says Irkut, and deliveries will conclude in 2022. The lessor will also benefit from a three-year quality-assurance programme to smooth entry into service.
"The project to create the MC-21 is important for both the aviation industry, in particular, and for the national economy as a whole," says VEB-Leasing director general Vyacheslav Solovyov.
He says the agreement to take the aircraft is "focused on the renovation and modernisation" of the Russian airline fleet.
VEB-Leasing, a subsidiary of Vnesheconombank, has previously been linked to a lease agreement concerning production equipment for the MC-21 programme.
Irkut president Oleg Demchenko describes the two sides' involvement as a "multifaceted interaction" which is contributing strongly to the MC-21's development.