The single-aisle MS-21 family of passenger aircraft, due to enter service in 2012, is designed to seat between 130 and 170 passengers and to fly up to 5,000 kilometers (3,125 miles), or 6,350 kilometers (4,000 miles) for a longer-range model.
"We have decided that the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft company will manufacture wings [from composite hydrocarbon fibers]," Oleg Demchenko said, adding that a contract would be signed later this week.
The plane is being developed by Russia's major manufacturing companies - Ilyushin, Tupolev and Yakovlev - to replace the aging Tu-154, which currently services some 80% of Russia's passenger and freight traffic, and also the Airbus A-320 and Boeing 737 aircraft.
Demchenko said the Irkut company would prepare a draft schematic design of the plane by September 2008 and announce a tender for the development of engines and avionics for the new aircraft.
He also said the new jet would be 10-15% more efficient than the Boeings and Airbuses in its class. It will have 15% better structural weight efficiency, 20% lower direct operating costs and 15% lower fuel consumption than the Airbus A320.
However, despite these advantages, its target price will be just $35 million, $20 million below that of the similarly-sized Boeing 737-700, the official said.
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Any response would likely boomerang on Russia – the partnership between Rosneft and ExxonMobil is a case in point. The United States has hit Russia with a third round of sanctions. This time the Americans went with a higher caliber weapon, targeting Russia’s biggest energy companies (Rosneft and Novatek) and banks (VEB and Gazprombank).