MC-21 – digest for July-2023

Photo by © Aviation of Russia

An event was held in Zhukovsky on 26 July 2023 to present the new brand of Irkut Corporation – Public Joint Stock Company Yakovlev. Prior to the presentation, UAC CEO Yuri Slyusar explained what made the rebranding necessary.

“Today we have a landmark event in every sense. Last year we completed the rebranding of UAC, we devoted a considerable amount of effort to it. All of you have seen our new corporate colours, our logos. Today’s event is the finalisation of the divisions’ design,” said the head of UAC.

Yuri Slyusar reminded that UAC structure includes four divisions: operational-tactical aviation – Sukhoi Design Bureau and MiG RSC, special aviation – Tupolev Design Bureau, military transport aviation division – Il PJSC and civil aviation division.

“Today the civil aviation division is being finalised – this is the famous, illustrious Irkut. 8000 aircraft, ten enterprises in nine cities, 20 thousand people working in the corporation. And most importantly, it is a close-knit, professional and competent team capable of designing, manufacturing, supporting and servicing the most advanced combat and civil aircraft. We are traditionally strong in combat aviation and now our task is to build on our historical traditions and move forward and do more in civil aircraft construction. This task has been set before us,” Slyusar said.

Andrey Boginsky, CEO of Irkut and now Yakovlev, explained why the name of aircraft designer Alexander Sergeevich Yakovlev was chosen for the rebranding. According to him, Irkut Corporation is based on the Irkutsk Aviation Plant, around whose Moscow office the corporation has been formed since 2002. In 2004, the Yakovlev Design Bureau, which has a rich, almost century-long history in domestic aviation, was integrated into Irkut.

“We were looking for a sound name that would reflect the full scale of the work we do. A name that could link generations of people, cities, factories in the pursuit of a single goal. The goal of a lifetime,” Boginsky said, referring to the title of A.S. Yakovlev’s well-known autobiographical book, “The Goal of Life. Notes of an Aircraft Designer.”

The birth date of the Yakovlev Design Bureau is considered to be 12 May 1927, although it was officially established a few years later. On that day, the first aircraft of Alexander Yakovlev’s design – AIR-1 – made its first flight. In April 1931, at Menzhinsky Plant No. 39, a light aviation group was created, the Osoaviakhim Design Bureau, with Yakovlev appointed as its head. In August 1932, the group received its first premises in a small part of the woodworking shop of the branch of Plant No. 39. It consisted of 13 designers and five workers.

In January 1934 the group was separated into an independent design and production unit and was named Design and Production Bureau with simultaneous transfer from Osoaviakhim to Spetsaviatrest under the aegis of the Main Directorate of Aviation Industry of the People’s Commissariat of Heavy Industry of the USSR. In March of the same year the CPB was transferred to the territory of a branch of the Spetsaviatrest plant No. 132, which was a crib workshop. Here, on its basis, the Light Aircraft Factory was established with a staff of 35 people.

At the initial stage of the CPB workshop continued to produce iron beds – “canadeiki”, and according to Yakovlev’s recollections, the plan for beds was not removed from them, per year the crib workshop produced up to 10 thousand beds. A little later, after the publication of an article about the young team of aircraft designers in the newspaper Pravda, the production of beds moved to another room. As Yakovlev writes in his book, “no one could have imagined that this workshop would turn into an advanced aircraft factory with a beautiful, landscaped area”.

In June 1935, the plant was transformed into State Union Plant No. 115, and A.S. Yakovlev was appointed its director and chief designer. During the Great Patriotic War OKB-115 was evacuated to Novosibirsk at Plant No. 153. On 30 April 1966, the Design Bureau was named Moscow Machine Building Plant (MMZ) Speed. After Yakovlev’s retirement in July 1984, Aleksandr Aleksandrovich Levinskikh was appointed the responsible head of MMZ Speed. On 14 July 1990, the Council of Ministers of the RSFSR assigned the name of A.S. Yakovlev to MMZ Speed.

As a result of the rebranding of Irkut Corporation and the completion of the civil aviation division of UAC Yakovlev, two design bureaus: the Design Bureau of MC-21 and the Design Bureau of Superjet were united into a single team that will deal with both current and future passenger aviation projects. The events to change the name of the corporation were to be held within the framework of MAKS-2023 air show. At the same time, the cancellation of the show of domestic aircraft this year was not the reason for the cancellation of the rebranding presentation. All procedures to change the name of the corporation are planned to be completed during August, UAC said at the event.

In addition, the name of the Superjet 100 aircraft has been changed: one letter S, which stands for Sukhoi, has been removed. The aircraft is now called SJ-100. The word Sukhoi was removed from the aircraft’s name back in November 2018 when the stake in Sukhoi Civil Aircraft PJSC was transferred to Irkut Corporation.

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Ural Airlines has submitted an application for the purchase of 38 MC-21 aircraft. The company expects delivery of the aircraft in 2029-2030, the carrier’s CEO Sergei Skuratov said. Ural Airlines now operates 52 Airbus aircraft on operating leasing terms: 14 A321, 23 A320, four A319, three A320neo and eight A321neo.

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United Engine Corporation has completed preparatory work for the construction of a new industrial complex that will produce aircraft engine parts for aeroplanes and helicopters. The complex will be located on Budyonny Avenue in Moscow. On the area of more than 77 thousand square metres it will unite under one roof PC Salyut, the Centre of Additive Technologies and MMP named after Chernyshyov, the employees of which will move to the new site, and additional recruitment of specialists will be opened. In total, the complex will employ about 13 thousand people.

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The Rudnyovo Industrial Park (Technopolis SEZ, Moscow) is planned to house the production of components for the MC-21 domestic passenger aircraft. The park’s residents will be enterprises of the Federal Centre for Unmanned Aviation Systems and other high-tech companies. It is also planned to locate here the production of MC-21 aircraft components.

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About 280 billion rubles will be allocated from the National Welfare Fund (NWF) for the MC-21, Russian Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told TASS. “Funds from the NWF are allocated for major technological or infrastructure projects. These are aircraft and shipbuilding, the Moscow-Kazan highway (M12), the Central Transport Hub, leasing of domestic aircraft. In other words, the money from the National Wealth Fund is used for economic development, for projects that are most important for the country’s technological independence,” said the head of the Ministry of Finance, answering a journalist’s question about the financing of large-scale projects from the Fund.

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The cost of the MC-21 aircraft will be calculated using a damping mechanism, UAC head Yury Slyusar said. He also said that the cost of the first aircraft will exceed the economic possibilities of airlines to buy or lease them, but the Ministry of Industry and Trade is supporting UAC, which will make it possible to compensate for the difference between the high price of the first aircraft and the price that is acceptable to carriers.

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The Irkutsk Aircraft Plant is upgrading the MC-21-310 aircraft with flight number 73055 under the import substitution programme. The aircraft will be substantially modernised at IAZ: domestic equipment will be installed instead of foreign equipment. The aircraft has been dismantled, emergency equipment has been dismantled, and the PD-14 engines have been preserved and dismantled. The engines were sent to Aviadvigatel JSC in Perm for a set of modifications.

A question may arise why engines were dismantled on 73055 and sent to Perm? After all, new PD-14 engines were recently installed on it. The aircraft made its first flight after the replacement of the propulsion system on 16 March. As our website was told by the Yakovlev Design Bureau, while the aircraft is undergoing modification, Perm engine builders decided to take advantage of the pause in flights and make some improvements to the powerplant.

A large amount of work is planned to be done on the onboard cable network, it will be replaced. Aircraft systems, hatches and doors will be improved, pilot-navigation, radio communication and lighting equipment will be replaced. The aircraft power supply system and software and mathematical software will be updated. The auxiliary propulsion system and the complex embedded flight equipment rack will be replaced. More than 150 documents describe the work to be performed on the aircraft.

In the middle of the month MC-21 with flight number 73361 was re-registered. The new registration is 73057. Earlier this aircraft flew under the programme of certification of the wing made of Russian polymer-composite materials. After the replacement of part of imported components, this machine can no longer be considered a standard one and received the status of an experimental one, so it was re-registered. The aircraft performed three flights: on 8, 15 and 18 July with a total duration of 9 hours and 35 minutes. The flight on 18 July was a ferry flight to Ulyanovsk, where the aircraft will be painted in the UAC corporate livery. In the first half of August 73057 will return to Irkutsk.

In Zhukovsky, the aircraft with flight number 73053 underwent a software upgrade. Its flights are expected to resume in August for certification under the import substitution programme.