Owner of a fleet of 359 aircraft, Aeroflot and its subsidiaries operate mostly Western models with the exception of the SSJ100 jet. But that scenario is expected to change in the coming years, according to data released by the Russian airline this week. Aeroflot’s goal is to reach 2026 with 200 planes produced in Russia, or about 40% of its future fleet of 520 units, a number predicted for 2023.
Currently, there are only 49 Russian aircraft in the company, the SSJ100 regional plane, manufactured by Sukhoi and which has been a model of low reliability. Aeroflot lost one of the aircraft in an accident in Moscow last year that killed 41 people.
To achieve this figure, the Russian flag carrier is receiving another 100 SSJ100 and hopes to have the new MC-21-300 aircraft already in 2021. The single-aisle jet is now the country’s most ambitious commercial aircraft program and will be capable of carrying 163 to 211 passengers.
Developed by Irkut, part of the UAC group, the MC-21-300 will have 50 units leased by Aeroflot and should become the company’s main short and medium-range jet.
Russian widebodies? Not so early
Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, has encouraged the local industry to return to a more varied line of planes in order to depend less on the West. UAC is responsible for turning Putin’s order into reality with several parallel programs in progress – in addition to the MC-21, there is also the Il-114 turboprop and an updated version of the Il-96 four-engine aircraft, still from the times of the Soviet Union.
Russia, however, has difficulties in launching widebodies, whose demand is less despite the high cost of production. The Il-96-400M, whose first test plane is being finalized and is due to fly in 2021, is a shortcut to re-assemble a large-capacity aircraft.
It is larger than its predecessor, the Il-96-300, and can accommodate up to 400 passengers in a single class. Its turbofan engines, however, are the old PS-90, which would make it a huge failure in the United States or Europe. But since the government is funding the project, it won’t be surprising if Aeroflot uses some alongside its new Airbus A350s.
The future still reserves the possible arrival of the CR929, this is a new generation twin-engine widebody, developed in partnership with COMAC, from China.But recent disagreements between the two countries could put efforts to waste, which will certainly disappoint Putin.