Russia surprised the aviation world on May 28 with the maiden flight of its new MS-21 medium-range passenger plane, creating a rival for its Western competitors with its first post-Soviet mainstream commercial airliner.
Unlike the plane’s roll-out from the assembly line earlier in May, manufacturer Irkut Corporation and its state-controlled parent company United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) did not announce the 30-minute test flight of an MS-21-300 model ahead of time.
The aircraft’s maiden flight was first reported by witnesses on social media and later confirmed by Vice Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin in a Facebook post.
"We’re flying," he wrote, attaching several photos to his message.
The Russian test flight comes less than a month after China staged the maiden flight of its C919 passenger jet as competition to Boeing and Airbus grows.