Déjà vu of Russian Aviation

Déjà vu of Russian Aviation

Photo: http://youtube.com

Recently, the Russian media outlets have again become interested in the new domestic commercial aircraft. Namely, the IL-114-300 turboprop and the MS-21-310 jet with Russian PD-14 engines.

Flights of both aircraft were carried out one after the other. They were timed to coincide with Vladimir Putin’s annual news conference, which was held on December 17. So, the event was of clearly representational nature. Probably, the organizers tried to seek the Russian President’s approval of further development of the aircraft.

And they did succeed. So, regarding the new planes Putin said the following: "...The MS-21 with our Russian PD-14 engines has taken to the air. This is practically a production model and a great achievement both of our engine designers and aviation workers. I congratulate them on this event. Yesterday, an Ilyushin-114, a completely new aircraft with almost a new modification also got off the ground. It is a huge success. Congratulations!"

Of course, this statement sounded like the carte blanche for further development of these aircraft on the background of their complicated pas history.

"Apparently, Vladimir Putin is not well aware of the information about these planes," Russian civil aviation pilot Valentin Salomatin told wek.ru. “On the one hand, it might be so. Well, it is not necessary for the President to be an expert in every model of a plane. The flight was carried out in a regular mode. They reported to him what they wanted to report, and he gave his approval. As simple as that."

On the other hand, according to Salomatin, Putin might have known what kind of planes they were but did not focus on this fact on purpose in order not to upset people. Apparently, this explains why the articles about these planes were published by some Russian federal media in their weekend issues. Probably, it was necessary to explain the need for these planes in a clear and justifiable way.

For example, for the IL-114-300. The development of the plane began at the Tashkent aircraft manufacturing association in Uzbekistan about 30 years ago.

Wek.ru has already published a detailed story about the creation of this turboprop and the stages of its transformation from IL-114 to IL-114-300.

"To those who say that this is just one of the models of the IL-114 that was made 30 years ago, designers answer that this is a different aircraft in general. The index "300" means this is a third-generation plane in the family. It also has the latest turboprop engines of Russian make, which is also an achievement to be proud of," the TV Channel One Russia said taking the bull by the horns in a bid to rebuff possible criticisms.

However, according to reporters, experts do not reveal all the details. For example, according to Rostec, the second IL-114-300 prototype airliner will be tested only in 2021 after the one that got off the ground in December 2020. This indirectly confirms the version of the first flight of this machine as a demonstrative action. The fact is that the second plane, which is expected in 2021, is likely to receive an "upgraded airframe." That is why it can be called indeed a new aircraft and not just a legacy of the USSR.

For now, the plane that Putin approved is nothing more than an updated model of the 1980s design. It is equipped with an upgraded version of the digital flight and navigation system, new electronic equipment, and Russian TV7-117 and ST-01 low-noise engines.

It should be recalled that the IL-114 is a turboprop, twin-engine and short-haul passenger aircraft for local air routes. It is designed for domestic flights, including those in the North, Far East and Siberia. It is capable of carrying up to 68 passengers over a distance of 1,500 kilometers at a speed of 500 k/h at an altitude of up to 7,600m. Last year, the plane cost $20 mln. It will be produced at the plants of Voronezh, Nizhny Novgorod and Ulyanovsk. The final assembly will take place at the P.A. Voronin aviation plant in the town of Lukhovitsy near Moscow.

"In total, in accordance with the program, the plan is to produce and to sell up to 100 IL-114-300 aircraft until 2030 for the Russian airlines, state customers and for export,” said Denis Manturov, the head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade. “After the type certificate is received in 2022, the first production aircraft will be ready for delivery."

The situation with the turbo-prop Il model is somewhat different but not drastically. It is “younger” than its prop-driven version. However, it is not brand-new, as the history of its creation started in the early 1990s with the Yakovlev Yak-242 model. The story of its development is also difficult. The machine was tested and perfected for a long time. Foreign partners made it more complicated, since Western firms of the UK, the US and Sweden also took part in the development. For example, the works were contingent on the presence or absence of sanctions against Russia at a given moment.

After this plane got to the skies, Rostec announced that "the Irkut corporation within the Rostec United Aircraft Corporation is the main developer of the aircraft. First and foremost, this is a huge success of Russian engine manufacturers for whom the PD-14 has become the first jet aircraft engine in 30 years."

Earlier, this airliner was equipped with PW1431G engines from Pratt&Whitney. Interestingly, some critics believe that it is the installation of the Russian engines PD-14 developed by the Perm company ODK-Aviatdvigatel and manufactured by ODK-Perm Motors that may bring about higher operating costs for buyers.

Speaking of money. According to the Accounting Chamber, as of November 2018, the project has become more than twice as expensive as shown in original estimates. Its cost in absolute terms was 158 bln rubles ($2.14 mln.) The total cost of the project until 2025 is estimated at 437.4 bln rubles ($5.94 mln.)

According to Rostec, the plan is that the first deliveries of this aircraft will be in the end of 2021 with a production capacity for 72 planes per year.

"The airliner will be manufactured in two versions – MS-21-200 with 130-176 seats and MS-21-300 with 160-211 seats," Rostec says.

In the meantime, Irkut's order book includes 175 aircraft. The aircraft manufacturers have already received an advance payment for them. In the world market, the total demand for MS-21 aircraft will amount to 20,500 aircraft by 2038.

For the record:

The MS-21 is a Russian medium-range narrow-body passenger aircraft. The program of the MS-21 short-medium range aircraft is being implemented by Irkut Corporation jointly with its affiliate, the Yakovlev Design Bureau. It was supposed that at the launch of serial production the aircraft would be called Yak-242. However, later the name was changed.

The first flight was held on May 28, 2017. It was first presented to the public at the 2019 MAKS Air Show in September 2019.

The serial production was supposed to start in 2017. First, it was postponed to 2018, and then to 2021. Due to the sanctions against the United Aircraft and Rostec corporations, the deadline might be postponed until 2025.

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