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Russia's new passenger plane cheaper, lighter and stronger than rivals

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev attends a ceremony to present the Irkut MC-21 mid-range jet airliner at the Irkutsk Aviation Plant (Irkut Corporation) in Irkutsk, Russia, on June 8, 2016. (Sputnik)

Russia has unveiled a new passenger plane which it claims is cheaper, lighter, and stronger than its Western and domestic counterparts.

The Irkut Corporation introduced its MC-21 medium-range passenger jet during a ceremony attended by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Siberia on Wednesday.

"I only want to say that I am absolutely certain that the airliner will be the pride of Russian civil aviation, and that our citizens and foreign people will take pleasure in flights on MC-21," Medvedev said.

The interior of the MC-21 aircraft (Sputnik) 

“This is a huge victory for our aviation industry and Irkut Corporation, our scientists, designers, engineers and workers,” he added. “I’m sure this is going to be a good machine, reliable and efficient.”   

While hailing the plane as “cool”, Medvedev noted that it is important for Russia to remain at the top of the league of aircraft manufacturers.

The twin-engine MC-21 will be manufactured in three versions, with a variable passenger capacity of 150 to 211 seats and a flight range of 5,500 to 6,000 kilometers.

Its design which heavily utilizes composite materials as well as aluminum and titanium alloys makes it lighter and stronger than previous models.

"It is not made of metal; it is made of composite materials. That allows us to give it a special shape. It is much lighter and stronger so it is a great step in the development of our aviation industry," said Irkut Corporation Vice President Vladimir Volkov.

PD-14 turbofan engine of MC-21 (Sputnik)

Production, which will begin in 2020 with a target of 20 planes per year, will more than triple to 70 by 2023.

Apart from rivaling its counterparts manufactured by Boeing and Airbus, the MC-21 is set to replace its domestic predecessors. 

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