Russian aircraft manufacturer Irkut has activated the electrical system on the MC-21 narrowbody as the flight test aircraft moves closer to a scheduled first flight in February or March.
The power-on milestone was disclosed in a transcript released by the Kremlin of a conversation between prime minister Vladimir Putin and deputy prime minister Dmitry Rogozin on 11 November.
Irkut had maintained that first flight would occur by the end of 2016, but Russian president Dmitry Medvedev let it slip during the June roll-out of the MC-21 that flight testing would begin in early 2017.
In the 11 November meeting, Rogozin told Putin that the first flight date is scheduled in February, but weather in Irkutsk, Siberia, could push the milestone to March.
Irkut’s next task is to check the electrical system for electromagnetic interference problems. A software load required to begin moving ground tests will be loaded in December, Rogozin says. Safety of flight software will then be loaded in January or February.
Meanwhile, a structural test aircraft will undergo loads testing at the Central Aerohydrodynamics Insititue (TsAGI) in Moscow, he says.
Two more flight test aircraft will join the programme. The second aircraft, which, like the first test article, will be powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1400G geared turbofans, will enter final assembly in Irkutsk in December, Rogozin says. A fourth aircraft will join the programme later, but will be powered with Aviadvigatel PD-14 turbofan engines, Rogozin says.
The mention of Russia’s indigenous competitor to the US-built PW1400G drew a response from Putin, according to the transcript.
“Very good,” Putin said.
Rogozin also updated Putin on efforts to launch a governmental Aviation Board, which would be charged with making Russian airlines compliant with new import substitution laws. The Russian government’s policy dictates that airlines replace Western-built aircraft with Russian-made alternatives as they become available, to include the MC-21 narrowbody, Ilyushin Il-114 regional turboprop and an upgraded Il-96 widebody.