Friday, June 16, 2017

The Bird Continues To Fly.

As Irkut Corporation informs (in Russian), MS-21 continues to fly and already has flown for the third time. The flight lasted 1.5 hours and included all diapason of speeds, including a cruising speed. That means that the landing gear was retracted and the aircraft flew high. This is rather very fast and intense test program and this tells a lot about air frame design. Comparison to Chinese COMAC C919 which, as far as I know, made her maiden and only flight on May 5 this year, is inevitable. Russia is pushing now for a full production cycle of MS-21 the moment it completes tests. 

As I already stated before, COMAC C919 is not a competition to Boeing's and Airbus' aircraft of the same class, MS-21 is. And here is a political twist. Russia, who is being sanctioned by US left and right, will most likely take a long awaited by many protectionist stance and will (granted that Irkut already has 175 firm prepaid orders and 110 more contracted) literally "replace", or, if one wishes, phase out B737s flying for Russian carriers. Chinese plan to do a similar thing with their C919, but, as I stated, it is not realistically a competitive aircraft. Initially, Russia will have issues--current Irkut facilities are capable of producing 20 aircraft a year, but the work has already started on expanding manufacturing to 70 aircraft a year. The conclusion? Sanctions are blessing for Russia and not in disguise. Considering successful tests of newest PD-14 engines, Russian commercial aviation didn't have it so good for itself since, probably, early 1980s. With regional IL-114 in plans for serial production in 2019, what happened with Russian commercial aviation can only be compared to the resurrection of Phoenix--it is an apt comparison. 

UPDATE: and the bird just can not stop flying, it seems. MS-21 flew on Sunday for the fourth time and, yes, with landing gear being "inside". 

This time, MS-21 was escorted by SU-30SM.  Irkut, obviously, is very confident in its aircraft.      

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