MS-21 – digest for February-2024

Photo by © United Aircraft Corporation (UAC)

Certification of the aircraft MS-21-310 should be completed by the end of 2024, only then will begin deliveries of the liner to airlines. This was announced by Denis Manturov, Deputy Prime Minister and Head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation, in an interview with Izvestia on 21 February.

“Probably, of the most difficult moments I would pay attention to are the issues related to the testing of the PD-8 engine. Because we have already worked out PD-14 as part of the aircraft. And it has received all the necessary approvals for the subsequent certification of all the units that are being replaced on the MS-21 aircraft. So by the end of this year, I will say carefully, we should reach the final stage of certification, and after receiving the MS-21 certificate, we will start delivery,” Manturov said.

According to the minister, the implementation of the state defence order with increased volumes and import substitution on two aircrafts at once – Superjet and MS-21 – is going on in parallel, and this causes difficulties, as all the projects involve practically the same employees who work on two programmes: military and civil. At the same time, the Ministry of Industry and Trade focuses on ensuring safety without compromising the quality and result of the work.

Denis Manturov’s statements suggest that delays are expected in certification of the russified version of the aircraft and, consequently, in the start of deliveries to the first customer. On 29 February this assumption was confirmed by Sergey Chemezov, head of Rostec.

Answering journalists’ questions on the sidelines of the President’s annual address to the Federal Assembly, Chemezov said that the deliveries of six MS-21 aircraft to Aeroflot planned for 2024 will not take place, they will be postponed to 2025, and possibly even later – to 2026. The reason for the delay, the head of Rostec called incomplete testing of the aircraft. He emphasised the importance of ensuring safety before the start of commercial passenger transportation.

* * *

On 6 February, during the 11th National Civil Aviation Infrastructure Exhibition and Forum NAIS 2024, UAC CEO Yury Slyusar said that the first flight of the import-substituted MC-21 airliner is planned to be performed in the first half of 2024.

Now in Irkutsk there are two prototype aircraft on modification: board 73055 was to take off after the replacement of imported components in November 2023, board 73057 in accordance with the original plans should take off in the second half of April this year. According to a source from the Irkutsk Aviation Plant (IAZ), the aircraft are not ready for resumption of flights in the Russianised form, the reason being that Russian enterprises have shifted the delivery schedules of import-substituted aircraft equipment and components, so that the 73055 may take off in April, while the 73057 is being moved closer to the summer.

* * *

The construction of a new building continues on the territory of IAZ, which will house the shop of machine tooling and moulds, as well as the department of mechanisation and automation of production. Erection of the new building is one of the stages of the project of technical re-equipment of the aggregate assembly production. The building with an area of about 13,000 square metres will include equipment and tool areas as well as laboratories. Construction work is currently nearing completion and the premises are expected to be ready for use this summer.

The vacated areas of the engineering building will be reconstructed. In particular, there will be additional production areas for the additional assembly of the wing cantilever part and assembly of the MC-21 compartments.

* * *

The Obninsk-based A.G. Romashin Research and Production Enterprise Technologiya has launched serial production of cockpit glazing for the MC-21 aircraft. By the end of 2024 it is planned to deliver 12 sets of products to the customer, and by 2030 – to increase production to 70+ sets per year.

The bird-resistant glazing of the MC-21 cockpit is made of high-strength pentaplex based on monolithic polycarbonate. This type of laminated material consists of two outer sheets of silicate glass, a polycarbonate layer and two bonding layers. The glazing set includes front, side and rear glass blocks equipped with electric heating, which prevents icing and fogging in various climatic conditions.

* * *

In February 2024, one flight of the 73051 prototype aircraft was performed in Zhukovsky. On 19 February, the aircraft took off at 07:34 and landed at 10:39, with a flight duration of 3 hours and 5 minutes. The flight evaluated the performance of the MC-21’s wing de-icing system in weather conditions conducive to ice formation. This was the first test of the wing de-icing system when powered by PD-14 engines; previously, the de-icing system was evaluated only when paired with a PW1400G.