Development of the Russian medium-range Irkut MS-21 twinjet has passed from the basic engineering to a working design phase, as the airframer starts lining up logistics for construction.
The airframer's IAZ plant in Irkutsk is to undertake final assembly of the type. To this end, it has assigned a workshop with capacity to build up to 80 aircraft a year.
Plant director Alexander Veprev said the MS-21 would eventually become its major product, replacing the Sukhoi Su-30 fighter.
"Afterwards, the Yakovlev Yak-130 trainer will remain the only non-civil aircraft in our product line," said Veprev, adding that Irkut has already ceased building Beriev Be-200 amphibian aircraft and transferred the related equipment to its affiliate plant in Taganrog.
To carry out comprehensive modernisation of its facilities and secure production rate for the MS-21, Irkut has invested Rb10.8 billion ($335 million) over the past five years and plans to invest a further Rb20 billion.
"We've already purchased more than 120 units of new efficient equipment with the aim of implementing an automated airframe assembly system," says Irkut president Alexei Fyodorov. "This approach should allow us to ramp up serial production and help shorten aircraft delivery time."
Alongside its sales revenues, Irkut will attract funding from Vnesheconombank, which intends to finance the MS-21 programme through its leasing arm VEB-Lizing by providing low-interest loans to launch customers.
The Central Aerohydrodynamics Institute (TsAGI) has stepped up work on refining the MS-21 aerodynamic parameters with several prototype models undergoing trials at its wind tunnels.
TsAGI director Sergei Chernyshev says: "From this point, our specialists will work in tandem with Irkut's team until completion of the type's certification programme."