It seems to be the standard these days. News from Russia indicates the MC-21 first flight will be delayed to late 2016, according to a Tass interview with Russian Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov. This is a delay from the 2Q16 that was the previous guidance.
The aircraft has apparently largely been assembled. Yesterday the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute Zhukovsky (TsAGI) reported the completion of the first phase of certification tests of the strength of the “metal-composite design series of power stabilizer”.
In August the aircraft’s weight was confirmed by Ilyushin Finance. Then in September came news from Aviastar that they were sending the horizontal stabilizer for tests. November brought news the fire protection systems from Technodinamika were complete. Mid-December saw news of the -200 model doing wind tunnel tests in November.
Note that all these news items were announced by either a government source or a sub-contractor. IRKUT is not the source for any news, which is odd. Who calls the shots? This sort of news flow would not happen from a western OEM. The OEM is the official source of progress reports.
BRICS economic growth looks tepid overall, but the growth estimates for Brazil (-3.1%) and Russia (-4%) look worst. Both countries are home to new aircraft programs. The slowdown of the MC-21 is therefore not a surprise. Since IRKUT does not provide any news (the English version of its website has been “coming soon” for a long time) it is not easy to discover where the program delays are coming from. Sukhoi is doing the wings and these have not been delivered – is this the key problem?
Given the state of the Russian economy, it may be there are not enough resources to meet previous target timelines. It would be helpful if there was a more robust news flow.