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Putin's persuasion nets MS-21 its launch customer

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Just to close the loop on the not so subtle intersection of Russian aircraft and politics, Aeroflot announced today it intended to begin taking deliveries of the 150-seat Irkut MS-21 starting in 2016, which appears to make the carrier the launch customer for the type.
In a letter to Putin, chief executive Valery Savelyev specifies the airline's acquisition plans up to 2020. Aeroflot says it aims to acquire 40 Sukhoi Superjet 100s, 11 Antonov An-148s and 25 An-140s before 2016. The aircraft will be used to modernise the fleets of Aeroflot and six associate carriers, of which it is taking over management control.

In addition, Savelyev says Aeroflot is prepared to take up to 50 MS-21s between 2016 and 2020. This all-new airliner is designed to be a viable Russian alternative to the existing single-aisles from Airbus and Boeing in the 130- to 190-seat category, and is due to enter service in around five years.
While I don't speak a word of Russian, Irkut's MC-21 highly-stylized marketing video provides an interesting look at the plans for the Pratt & Whitney PW1000G-powered aircraft with its three-variant family. The initial 150-seat MS-21-200 will seat 150, the -300 with capacity for 180 passengers, and the -400 with seating up to 210. The 300 appears to be a simple stretch of the fuselage, while the -400 will incorporate a further fuselage stretch and an expanded wing span, leading and trailing edge.

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