In the Irkut MS-21 infused and co-cured wings, the aerocomposites industry gets a glimpse of how out- of-autoclave technologies might be applied to primary aircraft structures.
The production process involves infusion, but is done entirely out-of-autoclave (OOA), which makes it truly unique in the aerocomposites industry. This aircraft is quietly proving to the aerocomposites industry the viability of large, infused, OOA primary structures for commercial aircraft. In short, the MS-21 is shaping up to be that first next-generation aircraft.
The MS-21 was designed and is being assembled by Russian OEM Irkut, but composite structures for the MS-21 are being fabricated by sister company AeroComposit (Moscow). Both companies are owned by United Aircraft Corp. (Moscow).
AeroComposit operates two plants that fabricate composite parts and structures for the MS-21. The first, in Kazan, Russia, does the autoclave-based fabrication, such as ailerons, rudders, flaps, spoilers and air brakes, as well as the nose of the plane and the tail- planes. The other site is in Ulyanovsk, Russia, where the infusion work is done on the wings and wingbox in a 11,000m2 cleanroom.
Irkut’s decision to infuse the MS-21 wing and wingbox dates back to the plane’s launch in 2009. Irkut could have employed conventional prepreg/autoclave technology, but opted instead to leap-frog legacy materials and pursue first-of-its-kind infusion.
It did not do so alone. AeroComposit had help from many partners, like Diamond Aircraft (general aviation), aerocomposites manufacturer FACC (Ried Im Innkreis, Austria), automation specialist MTorres (Torres de Elorz, Spain) and infusion equipment specialist Stevik (Cergy, France).
You can read more about production process in full article of August 2018 review “CW CompositesWorld” or following this link: