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MC-21 makes progress ahead of first flight next year

Six months after a public roll-out ceremony, Russian manufacturer Irkut has completed installing a modular final assembly line for the MC-21-300 airliner and made progress in ground testing, the company says on 20 December.

The 180-seat, single-aisle aircraft is scheduled to achieve first flight from Irkut’s assembly complex in Irkutsk early next year, with entry-into-service expected to follow in 2018.

Since the roll-out of the first flight test aircraft on 8 June, Irkut continued preparing the single-aisle aircraft for flight tests. The fuselage has been pressurised, systems have been powered on and ground vibration testing is now underway, Irkut says in a presentation distributed to journalists.

Meanwhile, static test of fuselage and wing structures is also continuing to support the first flight milestone. Most crucially, Irkut is continuing to examine the strength of one of the key technologies developed for the MC-21 — a full-scale wing fashioned with a wingbox and wingskins made with composite material cured outside of an autoclave using a liquid resin infusion process.

Additional ground testing a full-scale static article is also “near completion”, Irkut says in the presentation.

Two more flight test aircraft are being assembled on the newly-completed modular assembly in Irkutsk, where Irkut also assembles Yak-130 trainers and Su-30 fighters, the company adds.

The MC-21 is the Russian aerospace industry’s most ambitious commercial aircraft project since the arrival of the Sukhoi Superjet, but is significantly more ambitious. The aircraft features a wider fuselage cross-section than the Airbus A320, lower cabin pressure altitude and a full fly-by-wire flight control system with active sidestick controllers. Irkut has paired the aircraft with a choice of Pratt & Whitney PW1400G geared turbofan engines or Aviadvigatel PD-14s.

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