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The photographs of the Antonov An-148 regional jet made on June 11, 2009, when the first example of the aircraft built in Russia was rolled out from the assembly shop of the Voronezh plant VASO, give a clue on the amount of composite materials used in the aircraft. The aircraft was depicted when undergoing high-inside-pressure tests in the open air. Parts made of composite materials come in grey colors, in a contrast to airframe components made of aluminum, with yellow-green color appearance. Almost all construction materials in the An-148 airframe are Russian-made. The total weight of the composite parts is above 2,500kg, or about 12% of the aircraft’s empty weight. Wing’s leading and trailing edges and spoilers/interceptors are made of carbon plastics. Nosecone, fairings of the wing-to-fuselage attachment points and undercarriage fairings, as well as engine nacelle surfaces are made of glass plastics.

The Voronezh plant produces all of the named airframe parts using its own production facilities. When setting up the An-148 production line, VASO made special efforts to implement new, advanced technologies in parts manufacturing. In particular, the rudder and the moving stabilizer are integral, one-piece (non-disassembling) parts. Upper and lower outer surfaces, as well as the inner force-bearing structural members are formed in the autoclave in a single pass (heat treatment operation). This manufacturing method represents the most advanced technology in the field of composite parts production available. This and related technologies were proposed by Russian inventors. They were mastered and perfected at VASO. In the system of United Aircraft Corporation, VASO acts as the center of competence for composite materials. The plant supplies composite parts to Sukhoi Superjet 100 and prepares for production of similar parts for other aircraft types.

Within the framework of the advanced composite production effort at VASO, the plant formed a dedicated high-tech production unit that includes a workshop specializing on polymeric composite materials and a workshop producing composite subassemblies. The unit also includes a design and technologic department able to provide support for the whole set of technological steps starting from design of a part and preproduction preparations to streamlined production of airframe assemblies. The unit operates autonomously of other plant’s units.

VASO continues efforts on renovation of production tools. Among recent acquisitions are a machine tool for cutting “prepregs” (glass fiber after treatment with greases) and laser projectors. Next in line is a five-axis machine tool for streamlined production of semi-prepared parts.

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