In the Sky and in Space: MAKS-2021 Deals and Exhibits

August 1
Economy and entrepreneurship

The XV International Aviation and Space Salon (MAKS-2021), which was held on 20-25 July at Zhukovsky in the Moscow suburbs, came to an end. 829 companies from 56 countries participated in MAKS-2021. More than 20 organizations are Moscow enterprises representing the aviation, rocket and space industries. Moscow is the core of the Russian aviation industry, notably 42 industry enterprises operate here: engineering centres, experimental design bureaus, and research institutes. So every year Moscow industrialists present their innovations at MAKS.

“Just in 2020, the aviation industry enterprises output products worth more than 140 billion rubles. Eight companies enjoy the status of an industrial complex, which allows them to spare funds due to the preferences provided by the city government and allocate them for upgrading. Owing to the city government support, at least three aviation enterprises plan to invest over one billion rubles in their development by the end of this year,” said Vladimir Efimov, Deputy Moscow Mayor for Economic Policy and Property and Land Relations.

Digital Design and Lightweight Composites

The Sukhoi Design Bureau in Moscow is the largest Russian aviation holding, which is now more than 80 years old.

During the air show, the Company unveiled the latest Light Tactical Aircraft (LTS), known as Checkmate, a fifth-generation single-engine fighter, which was also designed by Moscow industrialists. It is equipped with innovative solutions and technologies, for example, artificial intelligence can be used in piloting. The fighter has low visibility and high flight performances: for example, as estimated by the developers, at high altitudes the aircraft will be able to fly twice as fast as the speed of sound. It is expected that mass-produced supplies of LTS can be launched as early as 2026-27.

Rossiya Airlines has signed a contract for the supply of fifteen Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ 100) aircraft developed by the Regional Aircraft Design Bureau in Moscow, Branch of the Irkut Corporation. The SSJ 100 is the first domestic airliner that has been fully developed based on digital technologies.

Also, Irkut Corporation and Rossiya Airlines signed a Memorandum of Understanding on the commissioning of the MS-21 medium-range aircraft. Under the approved plan, it is required to train flight personnel and cabin crew members, arrange maintenance of new inventory, refine data systems, obtain permits, and develop a model for performing maintenance at airports of a prospective destination network.

The airliner was developed by specialists of the Moscow Engineering Centre named after A.S. Yakovlev. It features wings made of composite materials. Narrower, longer, and lighter, these show sufficient strength capacity.  

Another more noticeable advantage is space. The MS-21 fuselage was increased. It enabled expanding the personal space of passengers, and now, for example, it is possible to pass by the service trolley in the aisle.

Printed Engine and Flying Baikal

One of the formal unveiling at MAKS-2021 was the LMS-901 Baikal light multi-purpose aircraft. As assigned by the Ministry of Industry and Trade of Russia, the aircraft was developed by the Baikal Engineering Company together with the experimental aircraft design bureau of the Moscow Aviation Institute. The innovation is to be flight-tested before the end of 2021.

It is assumed that Baikal will be able to replace the AN-2 biplane and improve the transport accessibility of remote areas in the regions. The light aircraft is equipped with skis, wheel-skis, and floats. Therefore, it can be operated in the most remote locations, including the Arctic.

Press service of the Investment and Industrial Policy Department of Moscow City

Baikal is designed for nine passengers and can carry two tons of cargo. Its main advantages include simple design, safety, low overall dimensions, high speed, and longer endurance— unrefueled flights up to 1,500 kilometres are possible. The LMS-901 is multi-purpose: it can be used for both cargo carriage and rescue operations.

The future belongs to 3D printing. This was once again proved by the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute of Aviation Materials (VIAM). It was here that for the first time in Russia a full-cycle additive manufacturing kicked off in 2014.

During the air show, the Institute introduced MGTD-20 and MGTD-150 small-sized gas turbine engines. For example, 70 percent of the MGTD-150 engine parts were made on a printer used for printing three-dimensional objects. In addition, metal-powder compositions developed at VIAM were used as material for those parts. During development, use was also made of digital design. The latest engine is the first of its kind in Russia, and in terms of its performance, it leaves behind foreign developments. Its little brother MGTD-20 was also made using 3D printing.

Ion Engine, Plasmatron and Angara

According to Alexander Prokhorov, Head of the Department of Investment and Industrial Policy, more than 20 enterprises of the rocket and space industry operate in Moscow. Six of them took part in the air show this year.

Thus, the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Centre, a traditional participant of the exhibition, has presented its developments.

In 2001, it built the Proton-M launch vehicle. More advanced, with a new control system and a high level of operational and environmental performances, it replaced the Proton-K. The previous rocket delivered the Zarya and Zvezda modules, as well as all the Salyut stations and the Mir station modules, to the ISS orbit.

Though, the last generation Protons will be superseded soon. The air show showcased mock-ups of the Angara-A5 heavy-lift launch vehicle, its promising upgraded version Angara-A5M, and the Angara-A5V heavy-lift launch vehicle with an increased lift capacity.

The Angara is primarily distinguished by the type of fuel used. The new rockets will use fuel that is more environmentally friendly than unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine, namely oxygen and kerosene. It is planned that the Angara will be launched from the Russian launch sites, such as Plesetsk and Vostochny.

The Khrunichev Centre also presented other promising developments, such as the liquid-oxygen/liquid-hydrogen upper stage, which will significantly expand the capabilities of Angara rockets for single and group launching of spacecraft into high-energy orbits.

In addition, the Keldysh Research Centre in Moscow, in turn, introduced a new-generation self-contained, or self-healing, composite material. The composite consists of layers with various properties, and when cut or punctured, it quickly recovers its structure. The self-healing effect is achieved due to layered structures that provide rapid mass transfer to the damaged area. Such composites can restore the leak-tightness of inflatable systems and eliminate gas leaks. They will help protect, for example, deployed modules of storage and technical premises, lunar station modules, protection systems for residential modules from microdamages.

Press service of the Investment and Industrial Policy Department of Moscow City

But the main unveiling of the Keldysh Centre at the air show was the ID-200KR ion engine. It was developed to correct the orbit of geostationary satellites (these enable the GLONASS, GPS, weather stations to operate, and TV signals to broadcast). In an electric field, the engine accelerates the ionized gas to produce jet thrust. At the same time, it consumes fuel less than chemical engines. Nowadays, ion engines are used to control satellites and small spacecraft.


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