Initially, the main goal is to ramp up civil aircraft production and advance development of the MS-21. In addition, Pogosyan points out that UAC integration has to continue to make the group more efficient. It plans to create centers of excellence that work across programs so that the various plants will then only be responsible for aircraft final assembly. That transition to centers of excellence “will come with the growth of civil production,” he says.
UAC subsidiary Irkut has begun releasing MS-21 design documentation, after reviewing results from testing of a prototype of the aircraft's all-composite wing box. “This is an important step forward in implementation of the program,” says Pogosyan. “It allows us to finalize agreements with all the major partners.” Preliminary results of the tests at Moscow aerohydrodynamics institute TsAGI matched mathematical models, he says, giving confidence in the carbon-fiber wing design to proceed with design release.
Manufacture of the initial MS-21-300 version is planned to begin in 2013, with first flight planned for 2015 and first deliveries in 2017. Production will be divided between Ulyanovsk and Irkutsk; the initial aircraft will be built at Aviastar in Ulyanovsk.
Irkut President Alexei Federov says the company has commitments for 261 aircraft, including 185 firm orders, 150 of which are to be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1400G geared turbofan. The other 35 are to be powered by Russian manufacturer United Engine's PD-14 turbofan. The MS-21 is being designed to offer a lower operating cost than foreign competitors, says Yuri Slyusar, Russia's deputy minister for industry and trade.
The target set for Pratt & Whitney is to lower engine operating costs by 20%, says Bob Saia, vice president for the next-generation product family. The geared turbofan will improve fuel efficiency by over 15%, he says.
The first ground run of the PD-14 turbofan was conducted June 10, says Andrey Reus, general director of Oboronprom, the holding company for United Engine.
The two-shaft engine has a 1.9-meter-dia. (75-in.) fan and a bypass ratio of 8.5:1. United Engine is reporting a 12-16% reduction on cruise specific fuel consumption compared with currently certificated engines. Composites comprise 30% of the aircraft.
Western suppliers are developing other systems in addition to the engines. Zodiac is responsible for the interior and electrical, fuel, oxygen and inert-gas systems. FACC will build wing leading edges, cowlings, flaps and fuselage fairings and will make a prototype of the center wing box.
As a next step following the MS-21, UAC is looking at the widebody segment. It is “analyzing a possible partnership” with Chinese aircraft manufacturer Comac. “We are thinking of critical technologies that we need to have for such an aircraft,” says Pogosyan.
China has tentative plans to develop a new widebody dubbed the C929, but there appears to be no fixed timeline for development or launch, given that Comac is busy with the C919 narrowbody program. Like China, Russia has talked about reviving the full range of passenger aircraft, including widebodies in the longer term. Comac and UAC once discussed cooperation in the narrowbody market but could not come to an agreement, which led to the launch of the two competing programs.