Irkut rebranding emerges as Russia's answer to international sanctions in civil aviation sector

  • Russian airframer Irkut is transitioning to the Yakovlev brand, a nod to Soviet aeronautical engineer Alexander Yakovlev.
  • Irkut, with 20,000 employees, is positioned to be the main aircraft supplier for Russian airlines due to international sanctions limiting foreign deliveries.
  • The MC-21 and SSJ-New models' designations might see changes, as hinted by former officials; Irkut has yet to confirm any changes.

MOSCOW —International sanctions that curtail Russian carrier's acquisition of foreign aircraft, including prominent brands like Airbus and Boeing, force Russia to a significant transformation. The aircraft manufacturer Irkut, notable for its work on the MC-21, Superjet 100, and its successor, the SSJ-New, is pivoting to a new identity, one steeped in historical significance: Yakovlev.

The rebranding, expected to conclude by the end of August, pays tribute to Soviet aeronautical engineer Alexander Yakovlev. His design bureau, which has operated under the Irkut umbrella, boasts an impressive legacy of designing diverse aircraft types, from bombers and fighters to regional airliners. Andrei Boginsky, Irkut's general director, commented on the transition. He highlighted Alexander Yakovlev's instrumental role during World War II, overseeing aircraft production and drew parallels with the present challenges facing Russia's civil aviation sector.

This strategic rebranding isn't just symbolic. Rostec, Russia's state technology enterprise, predicts a robust demand from Russian airlines over the next decade. Out of an anticipated requirement of 500 civil aircraft by 2030, Irkut, soon to be Yakovlev, is poised to supply 270 MC-21s and 142 SSJ-New models. This shift towards domestic production and self-reliance is a sentiment echoed by Rostec's chief, Sergei Chemezov. He emphasized the nation's commitment to match Western aircraft models in quality, reliability, and other crucial parameters.

The company's evolution to Yakovlev encapsulates its journey over the past 20 years. From its inception, it has grown both geographically and in civil aviation competency, now supporting a sizable workforce of 20,000. The potential renaming of aircraft models, such as the MC-21 possibly transitioning to the Yak-242, remains under wraps. Interestingly, this designation, as hinted a decade ago by former Russian deputy premier Dmitry Rogozin, was once linked to a twinjet proposal that served as a precursor to the MC-21.

As Russia takes strides to reduce dependency on imports, 2024 stands out as a landmark year. Chemezov underlined that this would be when they start rolling out passenger airliners fully equipped with domestic components, engines, and systems under the rejuvenated Yakovlev brand.

This major announcement by Rostec was timed during what was supposed to be the MAKS Moscow 2023 air show week. However, event organizers have confirmed the show's postponement, rescheduling it for 2024 and 2025.