Russia's Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev presents the country's new Irkut MC-21 medium haul jet

Russia unveils new composite medium-range jet

Russia has unveiled a new energy efficient medium-range passenger jet made of composite materials, claiming the plane outperforms western competition.

Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev presented the MC-21 plane - which will come in two variants with 130 to 165 and 150 to 211 seats - during a ceremony at the Irkut Corporation factory in Siberia.

The plane, which is still undergoing testing, is set for commercial deliveries starting in 2018.

Russia’s state-controlled United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) developed the aircraft and has reportedly already received numerous orders from domestic as well as foreign airlines. UAC includes the Irkut Corporation.

"[The plane] is not made of metal, it is made of composite materials,” Vladimir Volkov, vice president of Irkut Corporation, said. “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."

UAC said the plane, developed to serve routes up to 6,400km in length, will enable airlines to save up to 15 per cent on operational costs compared to current generation aircraft.

Medvedev said the twin-engine plane, sometimes referred to as MS-21, will ensure Russia remains in the top league of global aircraft makers. Russian state media have been hyping the plane, claiming it was superior to western competitors.

"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," said Medvedev.

Squeezed by Western sanctions over its role in the Ukraine crisis, the Russian government is trying to rejuvenate domestic industrial production to make the country less dependent on foreign firms.

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