The Ilyushin Il-103 trainer is being aimed at Western markets

Paul Duffy/Moscow

With Russian certification now awarded, and with US Federal Aviation Administration certification expected shortly, the Ilyushin Il-103 trainer has become the pathfinder with which manufacturers wish to bridge the void between East and West on certification matters.

The Il-103 - a single engine, four/five seat low-wing monoplane with fixed undercarriage - is a first in other respects also. It is the first general-aviation aircraft produced by Ilyushin; the first Ilyushin with fixed undercarriage; and it is now in production at the MAPO-MiG factory at Lukhovitsei, near Moscow, in the first co-operative partnership between the two major Russian aerospace companies.

The project started in 1990 when Ilyushin design staff first recognised that the Soviet Union's air force reserve (DOSAAF) and the Aeroflot basic training schools were beginning to seek a replacement for the 25-year-old, four-seat Yakolev Yak-18T trainer. At the same time Western aviation specialists were beginning to make contact with Soviet designers, so Ilyushin gauged the prospects for selling a single-engine trainer in the West by researching requirements in the UK and Ireland. By early 1991, a full-scale mock-up had been completed, and detailed design began. Ilyushin's approach to the 103 has been the same as that of every other project - make haste slowly. Every detail has been given as much attention as it would on a 300-passenger airliner.

Ilyushin also realised that, to sell in the West, the Il-103 had to meet Western certification requirements. From the start, US FAR (Federal airworthiness requirements) and European JAR (Joint air worthiness requirements) Chapter 23 were laid down as the targets to be achieved, and from 1993 FAA specialists were overseeing the programme. Many of the differences in approach, design techniques and manufacturing processes (including factory certification) had to be resolved in the programme, and general designer Genrikh Novozhilov says that about two days a week of his time was spent considering ways to bridge the East-West gap.

As the old Soviet system had no suitable requirements for general aviation aircraft -only for sport and aerobatic aircraft close liaison was needed with the MAK (Interstate Aviation Committee)'s Avia Register and new airworthiness requirements close to FAR-23, are now being promulgated for the rapidly expanding general aviation industry in the CIS. These are closely harmonised with FAR-23, although Il-103 designer Andrei Pupkov advises that the new AP-23 (Russian/CIS) rules are tighter on matters of structural integrity and G limits.

Pupkov's development team includes pilots and engineers with DOSAAF experience and their help has been a factor in resolving many design matters.

The prototype Il-103 was completed in March 1994. After extensive ground tests, including engine tests, it made its first flight on 17 May, the same year, piloted by Igor Gudkov. As usual in Russia, the first flight was followed by the factory flight test programme, an evaluation by Ilyushin of the aircraft's handling characteristics and performance. This involved some 40 flights, and resulted in improvements to the stall warning system.

Next came the certification tests. As the first type to aimed at both CIS and Western certification and, with system differences, plus technical evaluation, to be resolved, a total of 270 flights was accomplished in the certification programme, with the prototype being joined in 1995 by the first and second production aircraft.

These tests were outlined a report, which says: "The Il-103 is stable in speed and gravitational areas for its entire range of speeds and at every angle of attack... No large physical effort is needed in any manoeuvre - it handles well in every aspect of flight... The take-off is stable, with the rudder becoming effective at 16-22 knots (30-40km/h); landing is also stable and crosswinds of up to 10 metres/second (22 mph) are acceptable right down to touchdown."

Production of the Il-103 has been negotiated between Ilyushin and the former Moscow Aircraft Production Factory, MAPO. As the Il-103 is a private venture by Ilyushin, for the first time in Russia, strictly commercial terms have had to be negotiated. The advantage for MAPO is that the project takes up some of the slack caused by the huge reduction in aircraft procurement by the state; for Ilyushin the agreement overcomes the total absence of production at the design bureau. After the deal was concluded in late 1993, MAPO soon became the major partner in the MAPO-MiG Consortium. The production line was set up early in 1994, and the first production aircraft was completed in January 1995 and first flown on 30 January.


With no "flat four" piston engines made in the CIS, and with Western markets reluctant to accept radial engines, Pupkov designed the 103 to accept most Western-designed engines between 150 and 250hp. The engine standard (at this stage) is Teledyne Continental's 210hp 10-360 ES. On the CIS market, local avionics, including navigation equipment and interiors will be offered; for Western sales, Bendix King/Allied Signal avionics and navigation equipment are likely to be offered.

Ilyushin has taken advice from Western industry as well as Moscow-based industry staff who are general aviation users themselves, and is planning to set up a network of service centres and authorised dealers in market areas of expected demand and/or penetration. This will also include Russia and the CIS. Each service centre will be required to carry an adequate range of spare parts.

Initially, service checks will be required every 50h for an A check, 100h for a B and 300h for a C, with "on condition" monitoring stipulated for major components. Service life is designed to be 14,000h or 15 years; no doubt this will be reviewed upwards as experience is gained.

Pupkov and his design team are now working on expanding the 103 range: the first new model is likely to be a 103RG, with a retractable undercarriage to improve speed and fuel burn, and to minimise drag. Next should be a range of engine options and new avionics packages, followed by a lighter version, a two-seater with similar flying characteristics for the trainer market; and, later, a twin-engined version for the business market.


With CIS AP-23 certification now issued, Ilyushin is confident that FAR-23 certification will be granted by the end of 1996. At the end of March, only three CRIs (certification; requests for information) remained to be answered and these were for relatively minor items.

Ilyushin and MAPO-MiG have decided to produce the first batch of up to 20 Il-103s. The post-certification check flights have been completed - just six were needed, partially because the certification pilots carried out these flights also. First deliveries will be to the Russian and CIS market and should be made by the end of 1996. First Western deliveries will follow shortly after FAA certification and the signing of the relevant US-Russia bilateral agreement.

Denis Cooper, the FAA manager based in Moscow, says that the major problem still facing the 103 before it achieves FAR-23 approval has little to do with the aircraft.

"Russia must sort out its air code," he says. For the past two years, Russia has been redrafting its fundemental legal basis for aviation operational, technical and investigation matters. Until this is completed or until a presidential or governmental decree is issued, which clearly outlines the lines of responsibility, no Russian aircraft will receive Western certification. "After that, I'll be happy to see the 103 flying in US skies," says Cooper.

For the 103, FAR-23 approval will also lead to European JAR-23 approval, as the aircraft is below the 6000 lb/2723kg limit which is the starting point for each authority requiring separate approval. Aircraft below the limit accepted by the FAA or Europe's Joint Aviation Authorities will be approved by the other authority on application.

The price of the 103 has not been finally established, although Ilyushin deputy chief executive Viktor Livanov has said that the standard model should cost around $150,000 with Russian interior and avionics. Western interior and a basic Bendix King avionics package would be likely to add perhaps $10,000.

The Ilyushin design bureau has not yet announced dealership details, but the UK's Euro Russian Aircraft Sales expects to be offering the 103 by late 1996.

Source: Flight International