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Apr 19, 2021
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“Russian hope”: MS-21 again landed in the no-fly zone

In the photo: the new Russian passenger aircraft MS-21-300 ("Trunk aircraft of the XXI century") during the first test flight at the airfield of the Irkutsk Aviation Plant

In the photo: the new Russian passenger aircraft MC-21-300 (“Trunk aircraft of the XXI century”) during the first test flight at the airfield of the Irkutsk Aviation Plant (Photo: Marina Lystseva / TASS)

If the final condition for receiving the State Prize in the field of technology were to complete the work no later than the planned date, then such payments from the state budget could be greatly saved.

It can be assumed that in the event of a successful completion of the project to create the mainline aircraft of the 21st century MS-21, its developers would well deserve this prestigious award. Because the new airliner should seriously compete with Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the segment of medium-range narrow-body airliners. Our MS-21, as reported, will significantly outperform Boeing 737 MAX, Airbus A220 and Airbus A320neo in terms of operational and economic characteristics.

However, the victorious completion of the project is again postponed to a later date. Although the first production planes were once promised in 2017.

The United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has informed the Interfax news agency that the date of the first serial deliveries of the MC-21 aircraft will be postponed. It is assumed that the airliner will be certified in Russia at the end of this year. And it will be delivered to airlines from next 2022.

The KLA cites anti-Russian Western sanctions as the reason for the delay, because of which it was necessary to urgently replace foreign components with newly created domestic ones. In this case, the strongest blow was dealt to the wing of the aircraft, which made it a competitor to Boeing.

The United States refused to supply Russia with components for the production of a “black wing” made of composite material. Even before that, the first prototypes were built with an “American” wing.

The wing is called black because it is, in fact, black. Manufactured from carbon composite materials. Only with the help of such technology and such materials is it possible to build a wing of the required aspect ratio and shape. It is precisely this that can simultaneously increase the comfort for passengers by expanding the fuselage in relation to the generally accepted standard, and minimize fuel consumption due to the excellent aerodynamics of the aircraft.

If there is no “black wing”, if it is built from traditional materials, then most of the advantages of the aircraft will disappear. And it will inevitably lose not only the world, but also the domestic market of airliners to two giants – Boeing and Airbus.

Chairman of the Board of Directors of UAC Anatoly Serdyukov I predicted a fantastic future for the plane. He argued that in the next two decades, Russian airlines will need 800 to 1000 aircraft in this segment. Pure manilovism – our industry is not able to produce large aircraft in such volumes. So, despite the urgent need of the Ministry of Defense for military transport aircraft Il-76MD-90A, last year only three such aircraft were built at the Aviastar Ulyanovsk aircraft plant.

There were no problems with the wing until 2017. It was developed by AeroComposite, a UAC subsidiary, and produced four units at its plant in Kazan. Carbon tape purchased from the USA and Japan was used as one of the starting materials. But when the plane flew, it began to threaten Boeing to a certain extent. And AeroComposite was included in the sanctions lists. Although the company was not engaged in the production of components for military equipment. These are the laws of American competition. The United States made sure that Japan also refused to supply carbon tape. Although they did not sign under any sanctions in Tokyo.

But a solution to this serious problem has been found. Moreover, in the bowels of the Rosatom corporation, where the Khimprominzhiniring research and production corporation was discovered, which unites a number of research companies and factories. It was here that the technology for the production of carbon-containing materials was created, which are used in various sectors of mechanical engineering.

In 2016, NPK Khimprominzhiniring launched the production of carbon-containing materials in Yelabuga (Tatarstan), among which there was a necessary component of the “black wing” – carbon tape.

However, the chemical purity of the tape was insufficient. In this connection, in 2018, the construction of a second production line for the production of tape suitable for the MC-21 aircraft was launched.

Last year it was reported that the second line of the Yelabuga plant had mastered the production of tape for the “black wing”.

In this case, it is completely incomprehensible why the UAC explains the shift in the timing of the start of mass production of the MS-21 by the intrigues of the Americans. All components are in stock, what does the treacherous Americans have to do with it?

But it can be assumed that the reason is still different. And it is connected not with the unavailability of the “black wing”, but the engine. By the way, it was also American before the sanctions – by Pratt & Whitney.

For the MS-21, as well as for other heavy aircraft, both civil and military transport, Perm Motors has developed a PD-14 turbofan engine with a thrust of 14 tons of force. However, there has been some delay with its certification. It is certified in Russia. However, this does not give the plane the right to fly out of the country.

Requires a certificate from the European Aviation Safety Agency EASA. Two years ago, it was reported that this certificate could be obtained no earlier than mid-2021. Indeed, this procedure is rather complicated and time-consuming. Because, for example, it is necessary to confirm the quality of the materials used in the manufacture of the motor. Moreover, it is considered with the help of which technological processes these materials are produced. Extremely bureaucratic, but at the same time reliable, since we are talking about the safety of thousands of passengers.

And in this case, everything converges – the plane will receive a Russian certificate after the engine receives a European one. Otherwise, the game is not worth the candle – the use of the liner only for domestic transportation will have low efficiency.

However, other reasons for the delay can be assumed. At the beginning of the development of the aircraft, it was assumed that 62% of the components would be foreign. When sanctions pressure began on Russia, it was decided to increase the volume of domestic components to 97%. Which is extremely necessary, since the United States and the European Union can consistently and accurately hammer on the equipment of this aircraft. They will take and prohibit the supply of “glass” cabins, then switch to power generators, then something else etc.

And what do we have now? April 14 Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, speaking at the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum, said about the MS-21: “There is still hard, hard work to replace up to 40% of the presence of foreign onboard equipment in this flagship project.”

Photo: MC-21 flight simulator
Photo: MC-21 flight simulator (Photo: Dominique Buten / TASS)

This is incredible, but it is a fact! A quite natural question arises: what has the United Aircraft Corporation been doing all these years under the leadership of Anatoly Serdyukov?

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