MC-21: TsAGI’s Innovative Solutions
7 June 2022
May 28, 2017 witnessed the maiden flight by MC-21-300—the world’s first narrow fuselage passenger aircraft with a composite wing.
To create the aircraft, great efforts were applied by TsAGI (a part of NRC “Zhukovsky Institute”). The aircraft was developed by Irkut Corporation.
TsAGI actively participated in designing the aircraft by doing wide-scale research and proposing a number of innovative solutions.
TsAGI and Irkut did a joint aerodynamic design of high-aspect wing considering the high-bypass engine interference. This guarantees high cruise efficiency and good buffeting safety margin. Also, TsAGI and Irkut simulated state-of-the-art high-lift devices according to home base requirements, tested safe operation at thrust reverse modes, and did aerodynamic design of nacelle of the PD-14 Russian engine.
Hydrodynamicists at TsAGI tested and studied the aircraft’s ditching. The specialists for aeroacoustics studied the MC-21 noise sources (the environment noise, cabin noise and cockpit noise), provided recommendations on its reduction and participated in the tests.
TsAGI’s Complex for Strength greatly contributed to the project. For example, it created unique methods providing static, fatigue and dynamic strength for the aircraft structure, providing regulatorily calculation conditions for wing strength and composite fins. The specialists developed damage acceptance criteria for composite units, assessed potential lifecycle operation scenarios, calculated probabilistic patterns of random impacts, and determined visual inspectability of the structure. For the new project, TsAGI created 22 specific test benches for strength tests, climatic tests and frequency tests of separate units and full-scale aircraft; it developed test programs jointly with the Irkut Corporation, and did prodigious research into MC-21 strength. With the Irkut Corporation, TsAGI’s Certification Center provided expert conclusion related to aircraft certification.
Another large contribution was calculations and tests done by TsAGI to develop functionally extended integrated control system algorithms providing better pilot safety and more comfortable controlling. The Institute tested a real calculator of the system with the PS-MC semi-natural flight simulator. The latter was also used for testing active sidestick controllers and active system of reducing aircraft load. Irkut Corporation’s test flight crew trained with the TsAGI PS-MC flight simulator under the program of preparing for certification flying.
Currently, TsAGI is doing wide-scale activities for import substitution: the foreign polymer composites that were previously used for MC-21-300 structures are changed with the Russian ones. Programs have been developed for testing the aircraft’s aerodynamic models and units; test technologies have been shaped; and new facilities have been created.
Apart from that, milestone test stage has been successfully completed for MC-21-300 wing box made with domestic composites. To confirm strength of the wing box, it was subject to the loads greatly exceeding those that may potentially occur in a real flight.
‘MC-21 is the flagship of the national aviation, the bright evidence of years-long dedicated work of specialists from different organizations. TsAGI specialists for aerodynamics, strength and aeroacoustics have greatly contributed to creation of the aircraft and to all the subsequent stages of its maturation. We are going to continue research into MC-21 and to take part in preparing certification of the aircraft with domestic engines and wing,’ said Kirill Sypalo, Director General of TsAGI, Corresponding Member of the RAS.
‘The competences and research capacities of TsAGI have played an important role in developing the MC-21 project. Joint activities related to strength, aerodynamics and acoustics allowed us to confirm the rightfulness of the chosen technical solutions which shaped the conceptual core of the newest
MC-21-300 is a new-generation passenger aircraft capable of delivering from 163 to 211 passengers; it is aimed at the largest-scale segment of air freight market. The aircraft will be much more comfortable to the passengers as it has the largest fuselage cross-section among narrow-fuselage aircraft family. MC-21 exceeds the current similar aircraft in terms of flight performance and fuel efficiency—primarily due to its polymer composite wing which was created for 130+ passenger narrow-fuselage aircraft for the first time ever.