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Russia looks to restore status in civil aviation: MC-21 makes maiden flight using Russian-made engines, ending reliance on West

Russian aviation has taken another step toward complete independence from foreign manufacturers with the maiden flight of the Irkut MC-21-310 aircraft, a narrow-body jet airliner equipped with two Russian PD-14 engines.

The latest plane is a variant of the Irkut MC-21, which first flew in 2017. The project was reassessed due to Russia's relationship with the West, and moves were made to use domestically-produced engines. By adding the Aviadvigatel PD-14 to a Russia-made body, the country's aviation industry can begin moving away from its reliance on Western technology.

The PD-14, developed in the city of Perm, marks another victory for Russian industry in its efforts to work around US sanctions, with airplane manufacturers no longer needing to import engines from Pratt & Whitney in Connecticut.

According to Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov, the aircraft has several significant advantages over its competitors.

“MS-21 is a landmark project of the Russian aviation industry,” Borisov said. “The first flight of a new Russian airliner with the first fully Russian civilian engine created in our country since the early 1990s is proof of our ability to create high-tech competitive civilian equipment even in the face of serious market and technological challenges.”

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The successful test flight, which took off from the Irkutsk Aviation Plant and lasted for one hour and 25 minutes, marks another step toward Russian airlines using purely domestically-made planes, with production scheduled to start in 2021. As things stand, the vast majority of aircraft operated by Russia's most popular airlines are foreign-made, either from the American company Boeing or the European Airbus. Some domestic airlines, including S7, Ural and Pobeda have no Russian planes at all.

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