Delivery of New Russian Airliners – MC-21, SSJ-100, Tu-214, Il-114 and Baikal Pushed Back to 2025-2026

Russia's Domestic Aircraft Program Delayed by Sanctions, Raising Concerns of Shortages.

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Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna
Girish Linganna is a Defence & Aerospace analyst and is the Director of ADD Engineering Components (India) Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of ADD Engineering GmbH, Germany with manufacturing units in Russia. He is Consulting Editor Industry and Defense at Frontier India.

Russia’s ambitious programme to develop new domestic civilian aircraft costing hundreds of billions of rubles has been delayed by two years. This delay impacts all key civilian aviation programmes, including the MC-21, SSJ-100, Tu-214, Il-114, and “Baikal” aircraft. The sanctions-hit Russian aviation sector will be unable to complete the testing and certification of these planes by the previously scheduled deadlines in 2022. Furthermore, some aircraft’s specifications have deteriorated since initial forecasts. For example, the flagship MC-21 airliner has gained almost 6 tonnes of weight, considerably decreasing its range and maximum altitude capabilities. The Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade anticipates additional modifications to delivery timelines. However, some sources cited by the Kommersant newspaper believe that attaining even these revised targets is difficult given the present Western sanctions. There are concerns that the delays may result in a shortage of aircraft in Russia, prompting airlines to seek jets from friendlier countries.

Russia’s Ministry of Industry and Trade and state-owned enterprise Rostec have formally acknowledged delays in delivery dates for all domestic passenger aircraft programmes aimed at replacing Western aircraft. This includes the deferral of the Superjet 100 (SSJ-100), Irkut MC-21, Tupolev Tu-214, and Ilyushin Il-114-300 programmes. Originally scheduled to begin delivery in 2024, these aircraft are projected to arrive in 2025 and 2026. Furthermore, according to the Kommersant newspaper, certification of the Ural Civil Aviation Plant’s “Baikal” regional turboprop has been pushed back to 2024, with first deliveries scheduled for 2025.

The amended timelines result from the aircraft failing to achieve its initially promised specifications for various causes, causing delays in certification. A key issue is the increased weight of Russia’s flagship Irkut MC-21 narrowbody aircraft, which hampered its initial performance parameters. These mishaps highlight Russia’s commercial aviation industry’s difficulties due to Western sanctions.

According to the manufacturer’s data, the empty weight of the locally made MC-21-300 aircraft has increased by 5.75 tonnes over the previous version, which used foreign composite materials for the fuselage and Western engines. According to Kommersant, the weight rise resulted from Russian composite materials and advanced aircraft technologies in the revised design.

According to Kommersant, with a maximum commercial load of 20.3 tonnes, the MC-21’s flight range has been decreased to less than 2,800 km, with some sources suggesting less than 2,000 km. At the same time, the aircraft’s maximum cruising altitude is restricted to 7 kilometres. An aviation industry expert indicated that obtaining the estimated flight performance would be difficult unless the aircraft and its components weighed less.

Concerning the MC-21’s weight difficulties, Rostec claimed that the final configuration of the fully domestic version would be established in the second part of this year. The business claims that the program’s progressive deployment, which reduces restrictions as flight testing continues, will enable the aircraft to satisfy the highest airline standards. Rostec stated that this entails providing solid operational economics within the usually acknowledged range of up to 3,000 kilometres for Russian airlines with a passenger capacity of 150-170.

The locally made PD-8 engine has been a key concern for the Superjet 100 programme, as it has yet to exhibit its potential during testing.

A spokesperson from the engine maker UEC-ODK told Kommersant that extra work is needed on the PD-8 after difficulties were detected during tests in late 2023. The goal is to ensure that the engine is reliable in all operating modes while also ensuring operational safety.

According to the overall civil aviation development strategy announced in 2022, Russia’s domestic sector is expected to provide 1,036 new passenger aircraft to airlines by 2030. The Aeroflot group alone is expected to acquire 339 of these new jets during the next seven years.

For the important programmes, the MC-21 narrowbody was expected to begin delivery in 2024 with six aircraft, followed by 12 in 2025 and 22 in 2026. The first new Superjet 100s were scheduled to be delivered in 2023, with the number increasing to 20 each year beginning in 2024. Three Tu-214 airliners were planned for 2023, with seven more in 2024 and ten in 2025. Deliveries of ten Il-114 turboprops were scheduled for 2025.

However, Rostec has stated that the first deadlines set for domestically-made civil aircraft before 2022 were in 2026. They were then brought forward. In 2026, Rostec plans to deliver 30 new Superjet 100s to airlines. According to United Aircraft Corporation, the first new Tu-214 in a customised design was delivered to a state customer in 2023, with another expected in 2024.

According to the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, an inventory of partially built aircraft has already been established to assist with production targets. According to the ministry, 16 Superjet airliners and 12 MC-21 aircraft are in various stages of construction and will be outfitted with domestically built systems when they become available.

The Russian government anticipates that once certification testing on these aircraft is completed, it will allow for “accelerated manufacture and delivery schedules to accomplish a total fleet renewal of 600 aircraft by 2030.”

When assessing the realism of the output forecast until 2030, Oleg Panteleev, Executive Director of the “AviaPort” agency, points to two main issues: the availability of skilled personnel and machine park and financing. Currently, the Russian industry’s capabilities are prioritised for defence orders. The expert believes that withdrawing the State Defence Order (SDO) will be a strong impetus for commercial aviation equipment production: “Capacity and, most crucially, expertise will be freed up.”

The earlier timelines were calculated by aircraft manufacturers, who then relied on assurances from second and third-tier suppliers. However, as experience has shown, even first-tier vendors do not always have contractual components for their own systems, observes Oleg Panteleev.

The 2022 deadlines were set in anticipation of trouble-free certification of the technology, but international practice in all aircraft production programmes demonstrates that “no project succeeds without setbacks and timeline delays.”

The basic scenario for the aviation policy until 2030 envisions halving the fleet of foreign passenger aircraft to 300 units, excluding aircraft from domestic airlines. The Russian Union of Travel Industry indicated at the end of January that there could be a scarcity of transport capacity on domestic routes starting in 2027 due to the Russian aviation industry’s inability to introduce new aircraft on time. According to industry sources, this may push private carriers, particularly S7 and Ural Airlines, to seek aircraft on the secondary market in friendly countries. Another notion is to allow foreign carriers to fly between Russian cities and collaborate more actively with Russian enterprises through codeshare agreements. Third, they believe that in the event of a catastrophic capacity shortage, the Ministry of Transport may limit permits for Russian carriers on international routes, concentrating the fleet within the country. The Ministry of Transportation and the airlines declined to comment.

In 2023, the Ministry of Transport declared that Russian airlines were prepared to support the bulk of foreign aircraft fleets until at least 2030. According to Oleg Panteleev, the aviation industry’s ambitions and airline capabilities are currently “overlapping.” However, the expert observes that previously, there was a five-year buffer between the start of large-scale domestic aircraft deliveries and the retirement of a significant component of the fleet. But now, he notices, the time reserve is not as large.

Overall, while production targets have been established, fulfilling them will depend on addressing labour, industrial, financial, and certification difficulties in a timely manner to avoid potential air transport capacity deficits later this decade.


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