Irkut makes 10% fuel advantage claim over NEO, MAX for MC-21

Russia’s Irkurt claims its MC-21 mainline jet, a direct competitor to the Airbus A320/321neo and Boeing 737-8/9 MAX, will be some 10% more economical. Irkut claims the MC-21 will be up to 23% more efficient than the current engine-powered Airbus and Boeing products.

Thanks to a reader who is at the MAKS air show, we received this photo from a slide presentation. Although others may have seen this information before, this is the first time we have.


Other MAKS news:

  • Sukhoi inked orders for some more Superjet 100s.
  • Still no announcements from Airbus, Boeing or Embraer.
  • Ilyushin Finance Corp and Bombardier announced that the first Russian operator of the CSeries CS300 will Vim Airlines. IFC ordered 32 with 10 more options at the Paris Air Show.

In other news, Boeing and Canada’s WestJet announced a letter of intent for 65 737 MAXes: 25 MAX 7s and 40 MAX 8s. This will enable WestJet to expand and replace its 737 NG fleet. Delivery begins in September 2017, making WestJet one of the first operators.

18 Comments on “Irkut makes 10% fuel advantage claim over NEO, MAX for MC-21

  1. With a supermodern plastic wing and a lighter fuselage (compared to the A320 and B737) due to the use of aluminium lithium the 10% is not out of reach. The russian engineers are famous for their aerodynamics…

    • Talked to a guy from P&W. He doubted strongly that the PD-14 is able to match either the GTF or the Leap. Aerodynamics: they are bound to the ICAO-III limit of 36m, which gives Airbus and Boeing headaches, too.
      Finally, structures won’t save you that much. The wings that are tested at TsAGI are actually not Russian built. For me it looks rather like the 5-year plan equivalent of aircraft design.

  2. The Russian name of the aircraft is МС‑21.

    In my opinion, the name should be written “MS-21” in English [“MC-21” is Russian writing, with a Russian M, pronounced like the equivalent latin letter, and a Russian “C” pronounced like a latin “S”)].

    The full Russian name (Магистральный Самолёт 21 века) means something like “the state-of-the-art aircraft of the 21st century”.

    • You are of course correct regarding the transcription of C to S (remember how CCCP was actually SSSR in the Latin alphabet…) – very confusing for Westerners that a Cyrillic letter may look like a Latin one and yet have a completely different equivalent in the Latin alphabet. Easy enough to spot with Ил-76 or Ту́-204, but MC-21 (or CCCP) are not as obvious.

      Irkut themselves contribute to the confusion by using “MC-21” in the English-language slide shown in Scott’s post 🙂

      Wikipedia got it right, in any case:
      “Irkut MS-21 (Russian: МС‑21 “Магистральный Самолёт 21 века” – “Magistralny Samolyot 21 veka” – “Airliner of the 21st Century”)”

      • It Irkut’s English-language advertisements it uses MC-21. So who are we (or you Readers) to tell Irkut it should use “MS-21”?

  3. Chart appears to indicate Russians believe the MAX family will be more fuel efficient than the NEO family.
    That will make Boeing happy but casts some doubt on the accuracy of the chart.

    • In the chart, the margin shown between MAX and NEO is very narrow indeed, though. I wouldn’t use that as a criterion to decide whether or not I have any faith in the chart.

      The problem the Russian aviation industry is facing with this, though, is that they’re going to have a hard time finding anybody who’s going to buy into this (at least outside the classic “home” markets for Russian airliners) before they’ve actually produced the flying proof of their claims. There were too many high promises in the past that they couldn’t fulfil, and their planes were less efficient than the competition by quite a big margin. For Russia to suddenly not just catch up with Airbus and Boeing in terms of fuel-burn but to actually leap-frog them by ~10% thus seems something that’s very hard to believe. Note I’m not saying it’s technologically impossible – but I have my reservations they’ll be able to achieve this with the MS-21. I’d consider it quite an achievement if the MS-21 was on par with NEO and MAX, or maybe 1% better. That would at least give the Russian aviation industry some credibility – provided all other parameters (support, reliability, etc.) are also on par with today’s standards.

      • Risk: buying MS-21
        Reward: Fuel burn (?), price(?) etc.
        Russians have to go this way in order to get orders.

      • Piffle.
        A chart is a chart and the MAX curve is clearly below that of the NEO.
        The rest of your comments just substantiate what I said.

    • Yes, interesting to see a 3rd party verification (assuming it is reliable) of the sort of curve advantage the NG and MAX both have. It does also though show that the difference is small enough that fuselage length plays a major part, with the -700 and -800 beating the 319 and 320 while the 321 matches the -900 burn but while offering significantly more seats.

    • The MS-21 uses even as smallest version a Type I emergency exit behind the wing (as the B737-900 does). Therefore, the 180 seat limit doesn’t apply to it. The -300 has an additional overwing exit. The configuration of the current B737-800 with 189 seats with two overwing exits is not certifiable by current standards (another reason why Boeing sticks to the 737).

  4. The proper transcription is MS-21. But MC-21 is used frequently. Reason: there is the letter “c” on a latin keyboard. They much funnier letters where you simply couldn’t type it. I would recommend to use MS-21 as it is the factually correct transcription.
    Added: a transcription is no translation. “Transcription” means that kyrllic letters are translated into the latin letters (which isn’t possible for alle letters). “MS” still denotes the Russian wording of “Magistralnij Samoljot 21”. The original is “Магистральный самолёт 21”.
    Guess how much headache you have finding out which train station you want to exit.

    • Just use a map with Latin and Cyrillic letters. That works nearly everywhere. Even with one finger on the map locals will understand you. In case such a map is not available use two maps with same scale.
      Sukhoi PAK FA in Cyrillic letters: Сухой ПАК ФА

  5. If they manage to pull this off, then Irkut will turn some heads. I wonder where the C-Series -300 would be on their graph.

    Funny how some won’t believe what the OEMs nor even the airlines release as performance information but some relatively unknown and unproven competitor puts out a graph that agrees with their view of the world and there is no problem with such numbers whatsoever.

  6. What armchair designers don’t realize is that a fair share of the weight improvements a clean-sheet design may promise usually evaporates during detailed design due to manufacturing constraints. Especially true for CFRP structures.
    Even if the MS-21 would achieve a 10% lead in fuel effciency, the question would be at what cost this is achieved. What customers are looking at is cash operating cost, Technology has to buy into the design by its net contribution to COC improvement.
    Is Boeing still consulting SCAC on product marketing? 😉

  7. If the Russians propose a reasonable range around 2,500nm to 3,000 nm and assume that the aircraft will be operated on decent airports such that they do not need to respect the wingspan constraint and if they accept that the aircraft can fly at a lower speed, say M0.75, then I think 10% better than A320neo is achievable. Since this is a clean sheet design, perhaps they can opt to maximize the fuel efficiency instead of trying to fit the aircraft into all markets.

  8. The fact is that russians are to make comparable aircrafts to the western rivals not only in fighter types but also in middle range planes. And the long range in a near future.Something is very bitter for the western politicians.

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