MC-21 – February 2023 digest

Photo by © UAC

The current year is to be the final year in the program of import substitution of components and equipment on the MC-21 aircraft. According to the state contract for research and development work on the replacement of imported materials and products, code name “MC-21 Import Substitution 2021-2023,” the final third stage of the work allocated 849 million 700 thousand rubles, its completion is scheduled for December 20, 2023. Certification tests of the fully “Russified” aircraft will be held in 2024.

In 2021, before the opening of the MAKS air show, the editors of the website “Aviation of Russia” answered some questions on the MC-21, received from one of the central Russian publications. Then, in response to a question regarding the development and import substitution of on-board avionics equipment, it was suggested that there was no need to completely change the avionics from imported to domestic avionics. In 2022, the Russian aviation industry faced unprecedented pressure from former partners, and now import substitution should be 100%.

The development of domestic systems for the MC-21 began back in 2016-2017. For example, the Ulyanovsk Instrument Design Bureau (UKBP), which is part of KRET, manufactures half of all the avionics of the MC-21: the general avionics control system, multifunctional indicators, cursor control panels, multifunctional control panels, and display control panels.

Another enterprise of Concern for Radioelectronic Technologies, Moscow Institute of Electromechanics and Automatics, developed an information-computer system for integrated control of the MC-21 aircraft – IVK-KSU-MC-21, which provides manual and automatic piloting of the aircraft. The Ural Instrument-Making Plant, also part of the KRET, manufactures more than 15 items for the information-computer system.

Initially, the MC-21 avionics suite included some Russian-made components; however, the aircraft was developed within the framework of a broad international cooperation, therefore, the task of full substitution of the avionics suite became urgent in 2022 and is currently being implemented. Import substitution necessitated the development of new avionics solutions for the MC-21. This is due to the fact that the architecture of the aircraft foresees the use of new generation systems that meet the latest international norms, such systems have never been installed on civilian aircraft. Nevertheless, the Russian industry can produce them, the cooperation on the substitution of imported avionics is defined and the relevant work is underway, said the website “Aviation of Russia” informed source in the aviation industry.

The import substitution program for the MC-21 and SSJ100 aircraft in the avionics segment may and must have an impact on the modernization of the Tu-214. Currently this aircraft has two pilots and a flight engineer in the cockpit. With a two-member crew, all functions of the flight engineer to control aircraft systems and monitor their proper operation is assumed by the general avionics control system (GCMS). First of all, automation excludes the possibility of errors caused by the human factor and from the airlines’ point of view – automation leads to the reduction of expenses on training and remuneration of additional crew members.

Thus, a synergy arises where modern developments make it possible to raise the previous generation aircraft to a new level and operate it efficiently.

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The company VEB.RF in its telegraph channel reported in which cities will be opened MRO stations for SSJ-New (/100) and MC-21 aircraft. It is noteworthy that the MRO stations will be able not only to service the aircraft fleet, but also perform repairs and modifications of aircraft.

According to VEB.RF in 2023 it is expected to launch service stations in Apatity, Arkhangelsk and Syktyvkar. In 2026-2027 – in Sheremetyevo airport. By 2030 maintenance stations for new Russian airliners will be opened in Vladivostok, Blagoveshchensk, Khabarovsk, Penza, Novosibirsk, Ulan-Ude and Chulman.

In turn, at MRO Russia & CIS 2023, Irkut presented an after-sales support system for Russian civil aircraft to the airline operators. The systems are to be expanded for MC-21, SSJ-New, Tu-214, and Il-114-300. The comprehensive program of the corporation implies expansion of MRO infrastructure and retraining of personnel, opening new facilities for aircraft maintenance and repair. “In 2026 we are planning to commission a hangar complex at Sheremetyevo Airport for SSJ100 and MC-21 aircraft maintenance,” said Dmitry Borisenko, Deputy General Director for Civil Aircraft Customer Support, Irkut.

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On February 17, during the meeting of the presidents of Russia and Belarus in Moscow, Alexander Lukashenko said that Belarusian specialists produce up to 1,000 components for the passenger planes MC-21 and Superjet 100.

“You once raised the issue of cooperation in the field of aircraft construction in EurAsEC. I have to tell you that the Belarusians already make up to a thousand components for the MC-21 and the Superjet 100. We have three military plants, one civilian. They used to be repair facilities, now they produce components,” the president of Belarus told Vladimir Putin.

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Also on February 17, the governor of Voronezh Oblast Aleksandr Gusev had a working meeting with the managing director of PJSC “Il” Daniel Brenerman and the director of the branch of PJSC “Il” – VASO Stanislav Gretchenko. Daniil Brenerman said that VASO is increasing the production of components within the framework of inter-plant cooperation of UAC within the programs of MC-21, IL-114-300, SSJ-New and IL-76MD-90A.

Due to the increase in the volume of production it is necessary to develop the specialization center established on the basis of VASO for the production of engine nacelles for domestic aircraft with Russian aircraft engines. The company is already producing engine nacelles for PD-90A and PD-14 engines and is starting production for PD-8.

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The Orenburg-based production association Strela has mastered the production of multi-purpose force locks, which are used for securing the removable fuselage, wing and fins elements (covers and hatches), as well as for securing the internal removable parts of the airframe structures of the MC-21 aircraft.

The lock itself is not a sophisticated product and consists of six parts, but it is an important component of the airliner design – the aircraft needs more than 2000 different locks. The specialists of the association had to solve three technological problems, in one way or another, connected with the small dimensions of the lock, the height of the body of which is only 16 mm.

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The Government of the Russian Federation has prepared passports of investment projects for renewal of the domestic aircraft fleet. Relevant contracts with enterprises of the aviation industry have already been concluded. In the sphere of aircraft building industry more than 237 billion rubles will be allocated in 2023 and more than 32 billion rubles in 2024-2025. Between 2023 and 2025, Aeroflot will get more than 60 long-haul aircraft, including the flagship MC-21 airliners, the upgraded Superjets and Tu-214, on favorable terms. About 100 Mi-8 family helicopters will go to airlines flying in different regions of Russia. Between 2024 and 2026 almost 40 domestic aircraft will join the fleet of Aurora, the only airline in the Russian Far East. Among them are Superjets, Baikal planes and Mi-171 helicopters.

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The MC-21 continues to fly in Zhukovsky under the program of expanding its type certificate. In February, flights were performed by aircraft 73053.

The aircraft made 15 flights, a total of 41 hours and 35 minutes. Part of these flights were performed to determine the effect of ground proximity on the moment characteristics for refining the algorithms of automatic landing according to ICAO Category IIIA. Another part was to determine control characteristics in case of failures of wing mechanization.

Flight 73053, February 7, 2023. Modes for determining the effects of ground proximity

A landing airplane is affected by a screen effect in the immediate vicinity of the ground during sustaining – speed damping after leveling and before touchdown. When landing manually, the pilot takes this effect into account based on his experience, speed, weight and external conditions. In an automatic landing, the complex control system (CCS) has to do all this. For its adjustment and correction of software and mathematical software, there are a series of passes at different heights from 30 meters to 1-1.5 meters to determine the influence of various factors, said a source in Zhukovsky. For example, a flight was made on February 7 to collect information and adjust the CSU to parry the screen effect.

Flight 73053, February 16, 2023. Determination of control characteristics in case of failures of wing mechanization

And, for example, the flight of February 16 determined the control characteristics for various failures of ailerons, one, two and all three pairs of interceptors. This series of flights was performed at different altitudes and at different speeds, the interlocutor explained to “Aviation of Russia”.