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Russia shocks airline industry with maiden flight of new passenger plane

Russia has surprised the airline industry by announcing the successful test flight of a new medium range passenger plane.

Irkut Corporation, itself owned by state controlled United Aircraft Corporation, said its MC-21-300 had successfully flown for 30 minutes at a height of 1000 metres at a speed of 300 kilometers per hour.

"[The] flight mission is accomplished. The flight went in the normal mode. There are no obstacles revealed preventing the tests continuation," the lead test pilot, Oleg Kononenko, is quoted as saying on the Irkut Corp. website, Sunday.

With a capacity between 163 and 211 passengers and a maximum flight range of 6,000 kilometers, the MC-21-300, will attempt to compete with the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320.

Irkut said global demand for that area of aviation should translate to about 15,000 new aircraft worldwide across the next 20 years.

Photographer | Collection | Getty Images

The firm claimed the new plane is superior to existing rivals, highlighting its extensive use of polymer composite materials.

The plane maker also lauded the new generation engines which it said reduced fuel consumption, emitted lower noise and pumped out less hazardous emissions.

"[The] calculated reduction of direct operational costs for MC-21 is 12-15% lower than for counterparts," the statement added.

The program cost of the plane was estimated by Russian state media at 164 billion rubles ($4.6 billion) in 2014, but delivery dates have slipped since then.

Irkut said it has an initial portfolio of 175 "firm orders" which will maintain production capacity "in the coming years".