On the 25 December last year an MC-21-300 aircraft, whose wings are made of polymer composite materials produced in Russia, performed its first flight. The new generation medium-haul aircraft with a capacity of 163 to 211 passengers took off from Irkutsk Aviation Plant Airfield.
The aircraft was piloted by a crew consisting of test pilots, Hero of Russia Roman Taskaev and Hero of Russia Oleg Kononenko. “The flight mission was fully completed. The aircraft systems were operating normally,” Roman Taskaev said.
“The first flight of an airliner with wings made of Russian composites corroborates the fact that we have done everything right, the MC-21 program is developing consistently and unswervingly in spite of sanctions and unfair competition. This is a result of accumulating knowledge and expertise in the aviation industry, as well as unprecedented government support. The total amount of funds allocated by the Ministry of Industry and Trade for the creation of a composite wing adds up to 4.4 billion rubles. This Russian technology has a number of advantages over the traditional prepreg autoclave technology, which makes it possible to increase productivity, reduce labour and production costs, provide conditions for forming large parts and high-quality mass-produced products. To date, a composite wing has already been made for two aircraft, and the manufacture of a third set is in progress. We plan to obtain changes to the type certificate regarding the composite wing made of Russian materials in the second half of 2022,” said Denis Manturov, Minister of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation.
Domestic materials for composite bearing structures of the wings were developed in close cooperation with scientists from Moscow State University, Rosatom and aviation industry specialists. The qualification tests of the materials showed that they meet the requirements of the MC-21 structure. Wing panels and the centre section of the MC-21-300 aircraft are made at the AeroComposite-Ulyanovsk plant. The wing is manufactured using unique vacuum infusion technology, patented in Russia.
“The share of composites in the MC-21 airframe is about 40%, which is unprecedented for medium-haul aircraft. The use of strong and lightweight composite materials has enabled the design of a wing with unique aerodynamic characteristics unattainable for a metal wing. Improved aerodynamics have made it possible to increase the width of the MC-21 fuselage and expand the cabin, which brings new advantages in terms of passenger comfort. MC-21 is the world's first-ever mid-haul aircraft with such solutions,” said Sergey Chemezov, CEO of Rostec.
MC-21 is focused on the most mass-market segment in passenger transportation in Russia and in the world. At present, the certification of the MC-21-300 aircraft is nearing completion, we plan to launch deliveries of it to airlines in 2022. At the same time, tests are underway of MC-21-310 with the new Russian PD-14 engine.
“There are six MC-21-300 aircraft in production, intended for delivery to customers. All of them are equipped with wings made of Russian composites. An impressive step forward has been made in strengthening cooperation between Russian aircraft manufacturing plants as part of the MC-21 program.
Centres of competence have been created within the UAC system, specializing in the production of individual units, e.g., Aviastar SP produces fuselage panels and tail unit for MC-21, and Voronezh Aircraft Production Association makes engine pylons and landing gear fairings. AeroComposite-Ulyanovsk manufactures the wing box, and KAPO-Composite – the wing high lift devices. These centres are involved in ambitious projects in the Russian aircraft industry,” said Yury Slyusar, Director General of UAC.