Russian state corporation Rostec, which owns the majority of the country’s aerospace manufacturers, published renders of the Irkut MC-21 airliner in Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) and American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) liveries.  

The images were posted on Rostec’s social media channels and followed the reveal of the airline’s new livery which was selected during an open competition.  

“So far Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) and American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) use Boeing and Airbus aircraft, but who knows what is going to happen in 5-10 years?” the post said.  

It then stated that the airframe of the MC-21 contains a higher percentage of composite materials and boasts a larger cabin width than its competitors.  

“The passengers of Aeroflot will evaluate these advantages very soon – the aircraft will enter the market in 2024, and this particular airline will become its first customer. Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) and American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) can stand in the line,” the post continued.  

A photograph of the aircraft painted with an Aeroflot livery was also posted. It is notable that the render shows the aircraft as registered in Bermuda. For many years Aeroflot, along with many other Russian airlines, chose to register its aircraft abroad. Russian aviation authorities tried to stop the practice which, they said, was conducted for tax evasion purposes.   

As Western countries imposed sanctions on Russian aviation following the start of the country’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the aircraft were promptly re-registered in Russia. It is unclear if the render was made before the start of the invasion or if there was another reason for including the now-discontinued practice of foreign registration.  

The Irkut MC-21, which was envisioned as a competitor to aircraft like the Boeing 737 MAX and the Airbus A320neo, conducted its maiden flight in 2017.  

Initially intended to contain numerous Western-made parts, the aircraft has been undergoing a steady program of import substitution and will now feature only a Russian-made engine, the PD-14, despite initial plans of being able to use a Pratt & Whitney PW1000G-JM as an alternative.  

Aeroflot became the launch customer of the MC-21 in 2021, back when the first delivery of the aircraft was scheduled for 2022. It has since been delayed to 2024.  

In late august 2022, Aeroflot announced a plan to order 210 MC-21s in the near future following earlier announcements that the program will be sped up due to the unavailability of foreign-made aircraft.   

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