United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) revealed during MAKS 2021 last week that the MC-21 and SSJ100 commercial jets are being studied for freighter versions.
“We are currently working on conceptual solutions for the release of the cargo version (SSJ100). And this issue is being considered not only in relation to the Sukhoi Superjet aircraft, but also in relation to the MS-21,” said Oleg Gulyaev, director of the Regional Aircraft branch of PJSC Irkut Corporation.
The executive explained that the Sukhoi aircraft is undergoing studies that will be used in the business plan. The next step will be to present the proposal to the shareholders and if approved, the entire construction and certification process will take two years.
The development of the freighter variant of the MC-21-200, an aircraft with capacity for up to 165 passengers, would still be in the initial stages. Despite this, freighter company Volga-Dnepr discussed the possibility of being the launch customer for the model, TASS said.
While the SSJ100 has been in operation for several years, the MC-21 will enter service in 2022, according to UAC. A cargo variant would certainly take longer to reach the market.
The Russian initiative, however, is quite unusual in the cargo segment, which rarely orders new short-range cargo aircraft. The most common is to take advantage of jets built to carry passengers and convert them, including programs supported by the manufacturers themselves.