Russia admits challenges with import phaseout in commercial airplane manufacturing

Delivery of Russified Superjet and MC-21 versions shift to 2025-2026

Russified aircraft :: UAC

Rostec and its subsidiary United Aircraft Corporation have admitted being unable to hit the targets for delivering new commercial airplanes within the timeframe outlined by the government-designed program for the development of Russia’s aviation industry. Development of fully domestically-manufactured versions of Superjet 100 (SJ-100) and MC-21 will take at least year or two longer than expected.

Deliveries of the production SJ-100 regional jets have shifted to 2026, whereas the medium-haul MC-21 airliners are not expected to enter service before 2025, RBC newswire reported citing UAC. On February 29 head of Rostec Sergey Chemezov admitted that MC-21 deliveries could shift further. “Yes, most probably [2025], maybe even 2026,” Interfax newswire quoted him saying.

Rostec controls the entire process of MC-21 manufacturing. Along with UAC, it also includes engine-manufacturer UEC and aircraft subsystem suppliers.

Recently the delay in the MC-21 program schedule was cautiously mentioned by industry and trade minister Denis Manturov, who oversees the program on the part of the government.

The first two fully Russian-made SJ-100 were supposed to be certified and delivered to the launch customer Aeroflot group in 2023, the first batch of six MC-21s was scheduled to follow before the end of 2024.

In the autumn of 2023 Aeroflot signed a contract with lessor Aviacapital-Service for financial lease of 18 MC-21-310s and 34 SJ-100s. It is part of umbrella order for 89 SJ-100s and 210 MC-21s, which makes up over 70% of the order book for these models.

UAC explained the delays with the difficulties that suppliers face with designing completely new aircraft systems, gaining new competences and conducting full-scale testing, as well as launching serial production within very tight timeframe.

The test SJ-100 with domestically-built systems, but still using the SaM-146 engines designed within the framework of French-Russian joint project, made its maiden flight in August 2023. The first flight with the Russian PD-8 engines was expected to occur the same year, however the maturation process for the Russian-made powerplant is taking extra time. About 80% of all equipment on this aircraft needs to be replaced with Russian parts.

MC-21 with Russian engines PD-14 was certified in late 2022, but 36 outstanding imported systems still need to be replaced on the type, including hydraulics, elements of avionics, air conditioning systems, landing gear and cabin equipment.

The first flight of the partly modified MC-21, initially planned for November 2023 didn’t happen. Rostec explained, that the final layout of the fully Russian-built aircraft would be shaped in the second half of 2024.

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