An Il-76LL equipped with a PD-8 turbofan took off for the first time on Monday from the Gromov Flight Research Institute in Zhukovsky, near Moscow.
The new engine is crucial for Russia to reduce dependence on Western components. Developed by UEC (United Engine Corporation) and Aviadvigatel, the PD-8 will be used on the SSJ-New commercial jet, a version of the SuperJet with local content, and also on the Beriev Be-200, an amphibious jet.
The PD-8 was installed on the left internal pylon of the IL-76LL, which serves as the Gromov Institute’s air laboratory and will be used to evaluate the engine in flight.
According to Rostec, a state-owned company that controls several Russian manufacturers, the tests will serve to “record the main operational data such as speed, pressure, temperature, as well as additional parameters necessary to confirm the design decisions taken and guarantee the safe operation of the turbofan.”
The PD-8 is derived from the PD-14, a higher-powered turbofan that is being tested on the MC-21, a single-aisle jet from Irkust with capacity for up to 211 passengers.
When certified, the new turbofan will replace the SaM-146, an engine developed by PowerJet, a joint venture between Russia’s NPO Saturn and France’s Safran.
Since the beginning of trade sanctions implemented by the West after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, new engines and spare parts for the SaM-146 have been banned from being shipped to the country. The situation has forced several aircraft to be kept on the ground due to lack of flight conditions.
The Russian government’s plans, however, are extremely optimistic. Rostec hopes to perform the maiden flight of the first SSJ-New prototype in 2023 and put the new jet into service as early as 2024.