Third MC-21 prototype begins flight tests [video]

Irkut Corporation

The third prototype joined the previous two MC-21-300 aircraft for flight testing at the airfield of Irkutsk Aviation Plant in Russia.

The airliner made its maiden flight on March 16, 2019. Lasting for 1,5 hours, the flight was “in normal mode”, reached 3500 meters altitude at a speed of up to 450 km/h, according to Irkut Corporation (now part of UAC, the manufacturer of Russian narrow-body airliner MC-21).

The fourth MC-21-300 prototype is still expected to join flight tests later in the year and the whole MC-21 certification program is expected to be completed by 2020. The date have numerously been postponed since 2017, mostly due to the repetitive problems with the wing. After MC-21 test flight in 2017 it turned out that the wing required further modifications, and then, in 2018, the delivery of necessary composites was halted by the US sanctions on Russia.

Irkut Corporation does not provide further details on sanctions affect, noting instead that “parts and panels for MC-21-300 production aircraft are being manufactured at the enterprises participating in the cooperation”.

Earlier, in February 2019, Rostec State Corporation Head Sergey Chemezov confirmed that the MC-21 mass production is postponed till the end of 2020 as the main innovation of the aircraft ‒ a prolonged wing, called the “black wing” ‒ is being fully replaced with locally made composites, as reported by RBK media.

The planemakers are believed to have enough residuary composite materials from American and Japanese suppliers for six more airliners. But composite materials supply problem must be solved, potentially by starting making them in Russia, before mass production could begin.

For more on US sanctions and their effect on the MC-21 program, please see:

 

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