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The MC-21 plane was 6 years late

The newest Russian aircraft MS-21 received a basic type certificate, the head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia Denis Manturov told reporters on December 28. But, according to him, flights to expand the certificate will continue until 2024.

The type certificate is a fundamental document in civil aviation, which means the safe operation of an aircraft, engine and the possibility of its commercial sale.

The introduction of the type of changes to the certificate allowing the use of Russian engines and a domestic composite wing is planned for 2022. Now the aircraft is certified with imported Pratt & Whitney engines and wings made of foreign composites, the Ministry of Industry and Trade specified. 

The MC-21 medium-range narrow-body passenger aircraft is the main project of the modern Russian aviation industry, a potential competitor to the world's most widespread Boeing 737 and Airbus 320/321. Research and development work on the project started in 2008. The first MC-21 took off in May 2017. Then, flight tests of the aircraft began. It was powered by Pratt & Whitney engines, and the wings were made from foreign composites.

The supplier of composites for the project is the Aerocomposite holding, which is part of the United Aircraft Corporation. But at the end of 2018, US sanctions were imposed on Aerocomposite, and the company was deprived of the opportunity to buy imported raw materials for the wing. Because of this, domestic materials were required, their development was entrusted to the structures of Rosatom. Certification of the MC-21 was moved to the end of 2020, and the start of deliveries to Aeroflot - to the beginning of 2021. As a result, the first test flight of the MC-21 with a wing made of Russian materials took place only on December 25, 2021. In addition, in the future, the aircraft should be supplied with domestic PD-14 engines.

"The Federal Air Transport Agency is ready to continue working on expanding the operating conditions of the aircraft and optimizing the structures, including remotorization for the PD-14 engine," said the head of the Federal Air Transport Agency Alexander Neradko in a press release.

In December, the recently appointed CEO of Irkut Corporation (manufacturer of MC-21) Andrei Boginsky said that Aeroflot's subsidiary, Rossiya Airlines, will receive the first MC-21s in the second half of 2022. According to an Interfax source, next year, four such airliners will be delivered to the Rossiya fleet: the first of them is expected only in September, the second in November, and two more in December 2022. Earlier, Rossiya announced the start of acceptance of the MS-21 in the spring of 2022.

Aircraft "Russia" will receive a two-class layout - 16 business class seats and 153 economy class seats. According to Boginsky, all production aircraft will be supplied with a wing made of Russian composite materials. Rossiya also ordered a new LED aircraft interior lighting system, which will simulate any time of the day.

According to Roman Gusarov, editor-in-chief of the industry portal avia.ru, the creation of a new aircraft from scratch now takes about 10 years, taking into account the development, production of prototypes, factory flight and certification tests, as well as preparation for serial production. Considering that the MC-21 made its first flight in May 2017, four years for certification is a good time, the expert told Vedomosti.

Oleg Panteleev, director of the Aviaport branch agency, recalled that at the beginning of the MC-21 project, the first deliveries were planned for 2016. Thus, the estimated time from the launch of the program to the start of MC-21 deliveries will be 15 years, and the delay in terms is six years ... Since then, the basic version of the aircraft has also changed: first, the MS-21-200 was considered as such, then the Irkut switched to a more capacious version of the MS-21-300, Panteleev emphasized.

“The history of the aircraft industry shows that Western aircraft manufacturers, who have extensive and continuous experience in creating new aircraft, created and launched their products to the market faster than Russian or Chinese aircraft manufacturers. But it should also be noted that American and Canadian aircraft manufacturers faced problems, ”Panteleev said.

In an interview with Vedomosti, the expert noted that the manufacturer has yet to certify the MS-21 with Russian wing materials and here the aircraft manufacturers are in the unknown - the material is new and has not been used on other aircraft. “Until the plane is certified, there is no point in handing it over to the operator. So by the beginning of deliveries the certificate will be in any case. Another thing is that by September (2022 - Vedomosti ) Irkut should have time to assemble not one plane, but several, "Panteleev emphasizes.

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