Yesterday, the Ilyushin Il-114-300 turboprop completed its 1st flight at Zukhovsky Airfield near Moscow, Russia. The aircraft carries up to 68 passengers and is powered by 2 Klimov TV7-117SM engines. It has been created to link passengers in remote parts of Russia with polar or tundra-like climates and poor infrastructure to cities and towns. Yury Slyusar, the director general of Ilyushin’s parent company, United Aerospace Coropration (UAC), has announced: “The first flight of the Il-114-300 is the result of the excellent work of tens of thousands of people—researchers, engineers, specialists—working in the design bureau and at the plants of the United Aircraft Corporation, at the enterprises of our suppliers and partners. The development of the new regional turboprop aircraft opens up new prospects for the Russian civil aircraft industry.” The aircraft model will be assembled in the RAC MiG (Russian Air Corporation Mikoyan-Guryevich) factory in the Moscow Region. Under the Kremlin’s orders, all aircraft parts must be made in Russia, which is why this version of the Ilyushin Il-114, isn’t powered by the 2 Pratt & Whitney PW127s that the previous versions used.
The Ilyushin Il-114 is not a new aircraft. Orginally introduced with Uzbekistan Airways (the flag carrier of Uzbekistan, a Central Asian republic) in 1998, 20 have since been produced , with production being halted in 2012. The reason for this lies in the decision of the Uzbeki government (the Il-114 was being produced in Uzbekistan) to convert the aircraft’s assembly unit in Tashkent (the capital of Uzbekistan) to the production of other pieces and materials, such as spare parts for cars and agricultural equipment. Russia, on the other hand, wished to keep the aircraft in production, which is why production of the aircraft is re-starting this year, but in Russia. Instead of continuing to manufacture the previous passenger version of the aircraft, the Il-114-100, which was powered by 2 Pratt & Whitney PW 127s, the Russian government that said all parts of the aircraft were to be Russian, for self-sufficiency reasons.
This news comes as commercial production of the Irkut MC-21, a Russian jet airliner, is set to begin at the beginning of next year, when the 1st deliveries are supposed to occur. The aircraft has around 150 firm orders and 160 options, with Aeroflot (the Russian flag carrier) being the biggest customer, having orders for 50 aircraft. This airplane can seat up to 163 passengers in a 2-class seating (211 in a single-class seating) and has a single-aisle. On the contrary to the Il-114, the operators of this aircraft will have the right to choose between Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines or Russian Aviadvigatel PD-14s. Most orders for this aircraft have come from Russian airlines, but some have also come from Azeri flag carrier Azerbaijan Airlines. Sadly, 5 of the aircraft’s possible operators have ceased operations throughout the past few years, reducing the aircraft’s order book by 51 aircraft.
It is definitely incredible to see how the Russian aviation industry is in action, whilst Western airplane manufacturers’ order books are thining-out, especially Boeing’s. The 737 MAX has lost 783 orders this year! Russian airplane manufacturers are determined to start 2021 on a strong note, and have made an incredible comeback over the past 30 years in terms of aircraft production and projects. Let’s hope that the Ilyushin Il-114 and Irkut MC-21 sell in large numbers, that the 737 MAX will hopefully bounce back and become safe again and Merry Christmas to everyone! 17th of December 2020.