Russia’s MC-21 Passes Key Engine Test

Russia’s short to medium-range narrowbody MC-21 has been making a good deal of progress over the past year. Recently, the aircraft’s Russian engine option, the Aviadvigatel PD-14, cleared emission tests set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). This not only opens the door to the aircraft and its PD-14 engines performing international flights, but it also makes the Russian powerplants an option on the international market.

MC-21 PD-14 engines
On December 15th, 2020, the MС-21-310, equipped with Russian PD-14 engines, made its maiden flight from the airfield of the Irkutsk Aviation Plant. Photo: UAC Russia

ICAO Emission tests cleared

According to Defense World, the Aviadvigatel PD-14 engine, designed to power the UAC (United Aircraft Corporation) Irkut MC-21 airliner, has cleared some relatively new ICAO emission tests. These tests were imposed just over a year ago, setting new international standards that take into consideration smoke and emissions of non-volatile particles.

Prior to the new standard, the PD-14 had already complied with previous ICAO standards and had also been certified by Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency in 2018. Meeting ICAO standards is important to the engine’s viability on the international market, as noted by a UEC (United Engine Corporation) executive:

“MC-21-310 aircraft with PD-14 engines will be able to perform international flights. The second important point is that Russia will now be able to supply aircraft with engines manufactured by the UEC to the international market,” -Yury Shmotin, UEC Deputy Director General via Defense World

MC-21 PD-14 engines
The MC-21 has two engine options – the PD-14 and the PW1400G. The former is designated the MC-21-310, while an aircraft fitted with the latter is an MC-21-300. Photo: UAC Russia

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PD-14 gains importance due to sanctions

Interestingly, the PD-14 engine was developed as security against foreign sanctions. This was made all the more relevant with Russia being denied the American-made Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engine – which was to be the main powerplant for the MC-21. However, its availability was jeopardized when US sanctions were imposed in 2017 against Russian Aerospace entities.

Indeed, Reuters notes that the Russian government has been pushing to make the country less reliant on Western imports. In 2014, the United States and EU imposed a number of financial sanctions as a response to Russian military intervention in Ukraine.

MC-21 PD-14 engines
The MC-21’s first flight with PD-14 engines had a flight time of one hour and 25 minutes. It flew at an altitude up to 3,500 meters with speeds of up to 450 km/hour. Photo: UAC Russia

The PD-14’s first flight with the MC-21

On December 15th, 2020, an MС-21-310 fitted with PD-14 engines performed its maiden flight out of the airfield of Irkutsk Aviation Plant. A press release from UAC notes that the flight task included checks of power plant operation modes, aircraft stability, and controllability. MC-21s fitted with PD-14 engines will be designated MC-21-310, while those fitted with PW1400G engines have been designated MC-21-300.

The mid-December flight time was one hour and 25 minutes, flying as high as 3,500 meters with speeds of up to 450 km per hour.

Commenting on the PD-14’s progress with the MC-21, General Director of PJSC UAC, Yury Slyusar, said

“The ability for customers to choose the type of aircraft engine expands the aircraft’s market potential and reduces the risks of the program.”

The PD-14 engine is the first fully Russian turbofan engine for civil aviation since the early 1990s. In 2018, Russia’s civil aviation regulator issued a type certificate for the PD-14 engine.

With this international certification, how well do you think the MC-21 will sell outside of Russia? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.