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News from Volga-Dnepr Group that it “might become the possible launch customer” for the MC-21 freighter version has been dismissed as gentle political posturing.
The group said today that, during last week’s MAKS 2021 show in Russia, chairman Alexey Isayskin toured the MC-21-300, the new Russian passenger aircraft.
Manufacturer Irkut has touted a freighter version, but there is very little information available about its plans.
Volga-Dnepr Group – which operates the no-longer manufactured AN-124, as well as 747 freighters, which are also reaching the end of production – in common with other cargo operators is considering new freighter options.
The group said: “During the visit, the companies discussed the possibility of the production of a freighter version. Amid the capacity constraints, emerging demand for freighters and increase of cargo volumes worldwide, Irkut Corporation is in a favourable position to commence the freighter programme.
“Volga-Dnepr Group might become the possible launch customer of the MC-21-200 freighter version.”
The MC-21 is an alternative to a B737-800, so it would not cover Volga-Dnepr Group’s needs, although its subsidiary, Atran, operates 737 freighters.
One source close to the group said: “I would not read much into it. It will never happen, but it could help calm the Russian government about the group’s use of American aircraft.
“V-D is smart enough to know that the phrase it used, ‘ready to review’, is an innocuous-enough term to make everyone happy.”