Layout of dry carbon fibre for the wing of MC-21 will provide Russian equipment

Photo by © TG-channel “Notes of Aircraft Builders”

In the Dmitrov branch of Bauman Moscow State Technical University the acceptance of the innovative robot laying dry carbon fibre for the manufacture of power composite elements of the MC-21 aircraft structure took place. Andrey Boginsky, General Director of Yakovlev, Anatoly Gaidansky, General Director of AeroComposite CJSC, and Mikhail Gordin, Rector of Bauman Moscow State Technical University, visited the Moscow Region branch of the university where they inspected and evaluated the functionality of the robotised complex, reported the TG-channel “Notes of Aircraft Builders”.

The robot stacker, developed jointly by PJSC Yakovlev and CJSC AeroComposite, is designed to automate the process of laying dry carbon tape in the production of composite wing of MC-21 aircraft. Thanks to the cooperation with Bauman Moscow State Technical University, a robot capable of laying long structures of the airliner’s wing cantilevers was developed. The serial sample of the Russian robotic complex will soon be sent to Ulyanovsk, to the production site of AeroComposite.

It was previously reported that the lay-out head itself was developed by the Platov South Russian State Polytechnic University. N.I. Platov, which is located in Novocherkassk in the Rostov region. A prototype of the gantry is in commercial operation in the Moscow laboratory of AeroComposite.

The complexity of such equipment lies in the vacuum infusion technology, which is used in Ulyanovsk on the production of composite wing of MС-21 aircraft. For its implementation, unlike prepreg, the dry fibre is pre-laid on the tooling. But the dry carbon fibre has no adhesion between layers, and to lay it out, methods of tight and reliable bonding of layers are required. Such equipment in the early 2010s was developed and manufactured by the order of AeroComposite by foreign partners.

Robotic units for dry automated lay-up of carbon fibre were supplied by Coriolis Composites; this equipment is used to produce wing spars. The Spanish company MTorres has supplied a gantry-type robotised dry-layout plant for the production of wing panels. Now Russia is producing such robotic complexes on its own.

The production of dry carbon fibre laying robots will allow to ensure a step-by-step increase in the production of composite units for the MC-21 aircraft in accordance with the plans of the Comprehensive Programme for the development of the aviation industry to increase the production of these aircraft to reach the estimated figures of 76 aircraft annually from 2029. Over the next seven years, the Irkutsk Aircraft Plant is to produce 270 MC-21 airliners, and it is impossible to achieve such figures without mastering serial production of domestic technological equipment.

In addition, the United Aircraft Corporation will be one of the suppliers of units for the Chinese wide-body airliner C929. Within the framework of interstate co-operation composite wing consoles for this aircraft will be manufactured by AeroComposite. Taking into account the fact that the length of the C929 wing is longer than that of the MC-21, the enterprise will need equipment for the production of power structures of larger size by the method of vacuum infusion.

As Anatoly Gaidansky noted, no one in the world is engaged in such production except Russia, and it is impossible to obtain the necessary foreign equipment even by “grey” import. Therefore, import substitution of such robotic complexes provides Russia with competitive advantages in the global market of suppliers of high-tech power structures for modern passenger aircraft.

The development and application of advanced technologies in the production of aircraft is a key factor in achieving the country’s technological independence. The joint efforts of Yakovlev, AeroComposite and Bauman Moscow State Technical University prove the high scientific and production potential of Russian enterprises – not only imported polymer-composite materials can be substituted, but also specialised high-tech equipment, which is now produced only by Russia in the global aircraft industry.