Key players in the Russian aerospace industry have unveiled a roadmap to substitute all the foreign composites on the Irkut MC-21 narrowbody airliner’s airframe with equivalent, locally produced materials, Aviation week
Umatex and Prepreg-ACM, respectively part of the Rosatom and Rusnano groups, intend to place their products on the MC-21’s movable surfaces. Tests are underway.
Umatex is conducting technology development to be able to supply larger, primary-structure parts on the aircraft. The ultimate goal is to eventually use only Russian-produced carbon fiber, fabric and preimpregnated material in the program.
The plan to use only Russian-made composites for the MC-21 aligns with Umatex’s quest for higher added values. “Carbon fiber is not very profitable so we decided to cover the entire cycle, from research and development to the production of fiber, fabric and pre-impregnated material,” Yury Svistunov, Umatex’s chief technology officer, said, adding
that the domestic market for composites in aviation is predicted to grow to 400 metric tons per year in 2025 from 200 in 2015.
So far, such materials are procured from Japanese and Western companies, such as Toray and Solvay. Major components on the MC-21 use composites—the center wing box, outer wing and horizontal and vertical tail.
Produced using an “out of autoclave” process, the MC-21’s wing is an industry first. The process, devised by Russia’s AeroComposit and Solvay, involves automatic lay-up of carbon tapes and vacuum infusion. Most of the manufacturing facility’s equipment was designed by AeroComposit, Anatoly Gaidansky, the company’s director general, said.
During static trials of the wing at the Tsagi test center, the wing withstood loads 30%
higher than design values, he added. The first MC-21-300 flew in May 2017. The second is scheduled to fly this month and the third in the 2018 fourth quarter. Certification is now
targeted for “late 2019,” according to Gaidansky. This indicates the program schedule has slipped. The first delivery is now slated for 2020. Production is starting this year, Gaidansky said.
Irkut, which heads the program, and Aerocomposit are both subsidiaries of Russia’s government-owned aircraft holding United Aircraft Corp.