Dubai — Russia plans to begin manufacturing the first domestic medium-range passenger jet since the Soviet era next year, after US sanctions delayed the project by as much as 18 months.

“We had to create our own production and currently we have created the material and we have made up our own wing using our material,” Rostec State Corporation CEO Sergey Chemezov said in an interview on the sidelines of the International Defence Exhibition and Conference in the United Arab Emirates.

American companies had supplied a subsidiary of Rostec, Russia’s main defence contractor, with wing composite components up until the US imposed sanctions on the unit in 2018.

Chemezov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin who served with him in the KGB, the main security agency of the former Soviet Union, in East Germany, has been sanctioned by the US since 2014 in response to the Ukraine crisis.

The jetliner, known as MS-21, flew its maiden flight in December with Russian-built Aviadvigatel PD-14 engines and is undergoing certification tests.

The first post-Soviet Russian airliner, the Sukhoi Superjet, was developed as a competitor to shorter-range regional jets from foreign manufacturers such as Canada’s Bombardier and Brazil’s Embraer. It was involved in two fatal accidents in its first decade of use and has been criticised by commercial operators for frequent groundings because of technical faults and maintenance issues.

The MS-21 family, which includes two variants, is being developed by the same Rostec subsidiary that runs the Superjet programme. It is intended as Russia’s answer to Airbus’s A320neo and Boeing’s 737 Max, with a maximum capacity of 211 passengers and a range of 5,200km

The state-owned conglomerate, whose business includes weapons manufacturer Kalashnikov as well as United Aircraft Corporation and Russian Helicopters, is pushing ahead with a diversification plan to increase its share of civil production from 33% to 50% by 2030, Chemezov said.

Rostec is ramping up manufacturing across areas that range from electric vehicles to medical supplies, with the latter contributing 10% of sales volumes last year, according to Chemezov.


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