Russia’s MC-21-300 with Domestic Composite Wing Makes First Flight

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Russia’s MC-21-300 aircraft with a locally-made polymer composite wing has made its first flight.

The liner took off from the airfield of Irkutsk Aviation Plant, a branch of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC)-owned Irkut company, Rostec announced.

The plane was piloted by a crew consisting of test pilot, Hero of Russia Roman Taskaev and test pilot, Hero of Russia Oleg Kononenko.

Recently, the aircraft performed 12 flights on various routes with passengers on board as part of final certification tests.

MS-21-300 / 310 is a new generation medium-range aircraft with a capacity of 163 to 211 passengers. Its key feature is the composite wing.

“The first flight of an aircraft with a wing made of Russian composites proves that we did everything right, the MC-21 program is consistently and steadily moving forward, despite sanctions and unfair competition. This is the result of the development of the competencies of the aviation industry and related industries and unprecedented government support. The total amount of funds allocated by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia for the creation of domestic materials for the composite wing amounted to 4.4 billion rubles. The technology introduced for the production of the MC-21 wing has a number of advantages. It, in comparison with the traditional autoclave technology, allows you to increase productivity, reduce labor costs and cost, and provide the ability to form large parts. To date, a composite wing has been manufactured for two aircraft, the third set is being manufactured. We plan to receive 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 power composite wing structures were developed with the participation of scientists from Moscow State University and Rosatom, aviation industry specialists. Qualification tests of materials showed their compliance with the requirements for the design of the MC-21 aircraft. The wing consoles and the center section of the MC-21-300 aircraft are manufactured at the AeroComposite-Ulyanovsk enterprise. In the production of the wing, the technology of vacuum infusion is used, which is patented in Russia.

“The share of composites in the MC-21 design is about 40%, which is a record figure for medium-haul aircraft. The use of strong and lightweight composite materials has made it possible to create 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. This is the first medium-haul aircraft in the world where such solutions have been applied,” said the head of Rostec Sergey Chemezov.

MC-21 is focused on the most massive segment of the passenger transportation market in Russia and the world. At present, certification of the MC-21-300 aircraft is nearing completion, and it is planned to begin delivering it to the airline in 2022. At the same time, the MS-21-310 aircraft with the new Russian PD-14 engine is undergoing flight tests.

“Apart from the three aircraft in the final assembly shop, three more MC-21-300 are at different stages of production. All of them will receive a wing made of Russian composites. Within the framework of the MS-21 program, a big step has been taken in the development of cooperation between aircraft manufacturing plants in Russia. In the structure of the UAC, centers of competence have been created, specializing in the production of individual units. Thus, Aviastar produces fuselage panels and tail unit MS-21, Voronezh VASO – engine pylons and landing gear fairings. AeroComposite-Ulyanovsk produces the wing box, ‘KAPO-Composite’ – the wing mechanization. These centers are involved in promising projects in the Russian aircraft industry,” said UAC General Director Yuri Slyusar.