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The third MC-21 prototype joined the flight test program

вс, 17/03/2019 - 00:00
The third MC-21-300 test aircraft has completed its maiden flight on March 16, 2019, with a duration of 1:30 hours, reaching the altitude of 3,500 meters at a speed of up to 450 km / h. The aircraft – designated MSN73054 – is the first to be fitted with passenger cabin and to be debuted publicly during MAKS-2019 air show in August. The flight took off from the airfield of Irkutsk Aviation Plant, the affiliate of Irkut Corp (an aircraft maker and a member of United Aircraft Corporation) thus joining the flight test programme of a delayed Russian advanced narrow-body. According to the report of the crew made of test pilots Andrey Voropayev and Roman Taskaev, ”the task was performed completely, the flight was in normal mode.” The first flight of the MC-21 took place in May 2017. Currently two prototypes are involved in flight tests, with another one doing static tests. At the end of February, Yury Borisov, Russia’s vice-premier tasked to oversee aircraft industry, promised that the fourth, and the last of MC-21 flying prototypes should get airborne by July. Yesterday, however, Yuri Slyusar the president of the UAC and the Irkut Corp cautiously noted that the fourth prototype “will join the flight tests in 2019." Russian certification of the basic version of the MC-21-300 powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1400G GTF engines is expected in 2020. Deliveries should start in 2021. UAC now logged 185 firm orders for MC-21, mainly from Russian state-owned leasing companies. The first operator of the type is expected to be nation’s flag carrier Aeroflot, which ordered 50 aircraft of this type. It became recently known that Russian government has advised state-controlled Aeroflot’s low-cost subsidiary Pobeda Airlines to consider replacing the potential 30-aircraft B737MAX order with the purchase of the MC-21. MS-21 is set to compete with Airbus A320neo and Boeing 737MAX aircraft, as well as the COMAC C919, being developed by China. The biggest challenge for the Russian advanced narrow-body programme, which is now several years behind its initial schedule, is not the delay itself (which is understandable given the complexity of modern airliner), but uncertainty related to international political environment. In a recent development, the Russian government urged UAC to come up with a proposition to replace as much foreign-made components as possible with locally-made parts on the aircraft after US political sanctions interfered with the deliveries of materials for the MC-21’s composite wing, preventing US’ Hexcel and Japan’s Toray from supplying composite materials for the MC-21. So far aircraft’s baseline engine, the PW1400G, is not affected. “We are not rejecting the partnership with Pratt&Whitney. We won’t take any steps to upset that partnership,” Yury Borisov assured. According to Denis Manturov, Russian Minister of Industry and Trade, it was decided to hold the premiere public debut of the MC-21-300 aircraft with a passenger interior at the Moscow international aviation and space salon MAKS-2019.

LCC Pobeda advised to consider replacing its 737MAX order with Russia’s MC-21

пт, 15/03/2019 - 00:00
The Russian government is reluctant to approve the purchase of an additional 30 Boeing 737MAX jets by Aeroflot’s low-cost subsidiary Pobeda Airlines proposing, as an alternative, the Russian-designed MC-21 airliner, reports Vedomosti business daily, citing sources close to United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the parent company of Russia’s major commercial aircraft manufacturer, and Aeroflot. Last year, state-controlled Pobeda submitted to the governmental commission the relevant application seeking approval for an order of up to 50 Boeing 737MAXs. The airline has since received government agreement to that deal and signed a firm contract for 20 of the newest narrow-bodies, with deliveries set for 2019-2021. But a second order – for an additional 30 of the type, which are needed to expand its fleet beyond 2022 – has been thrown into limbo. The current government approval procedure, which was created in 2018 as a result of harsh western/Russian relations, requires all state-backed companies to coordinate their import plans for foreign-built aircraft worth more than one billion roubles (US$15.4 million). The cost of 30 B737MAX jets, including heavy discounts, is reckoned to be $2 billion. The fate of the 30 aircraft order hangs in the balance, as the sub-committee for defence industry, chaired by vice-premier Yury Borisov, has not approved the deal which did not pass the application test to be reviewed by the governmental commission. Instead, Borisov’s sub-committee has advised Pobeda Airlines to consider replacing the potential B737MAX order (all or in part) with the purchase of the Russian-made advanced MC-21 airliner. At the same time, the airline’s Aeroflot parent, which has already placed an order for MC-21s, may have to review its own fleet expansion plans in order to enable its low-cost subsidiary to take early delivery positions of the Russian-made jet. The serial production launch of the MC-21 has been postponed until 2021 and the aircraft is currently in the middle of certification testing. Whether the government will insist that Pobeda opts for the Russian-made airliners will now depend on the conclusions of the country’s Ministry for Industry and Trade, which has been instructed to produce a report confirming that the Russian aviation industry is capable – or not – to meet the timely delivery of a sufficient number of the aircraft to satisfy the low-cost carrier’s demands. “We have not yet even passed Pobeda’s purchase approval request for 30 Boeings to the [government] commission for import phase-out,” confirms a spokesman for the vice-premier. “This [matter] is still on our agenda.” In December 2018, Borisov instructed the Ministry of Industry and Trade and UAC to jointly evaluate the possibilities of covering at least part of this demand for aircraft with MC-21s, he further explains. “No-one is aiming to upset Pobeda’s purchase. The objective is to correlate the investment plans of state-owned companies with the production plans of Russian [aircraft] manufacturers,” he assures. “At the next meeting we are expecting to discover details of a report from Denis Manturov, head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, to learn whether the Russian aircraft producer, given its existing backlog, will be able to guarantee deliveries of [sufficient] aircraft to replace the Boeing MAX [order],” he continues. “Based on that report, the government will make the decision about the approval.” This is the first time that LCC Pobeda has been faced with the possibility of introducing Russian-made aircraft to its fleet. Traditionally, it has been Aeroflot’s task to teach new Russian aircraft how to fly. The Russian national carrier has already taken delivery of 50 Superjet 100 regional jets (SSJ100s) and has also placed an additional order for 100 more SSJ100s (though some of them may be transferred to Rossiya Airlines, its other subsidiary), as well as 50 bigger MC-21 variants. By contrast, the low-cost subsidiary has always pinned its hopes on tried and tested technology, and is therefore currently operating a unified fleet of 24 Boeing 737-800s, and is counting on adding six more before the start of the upcoming summer season. With those 20 B737MAXs already approved by the officials, by 2021 Pobeda’s fleet is expected to reach 50 units. In its renewed business strategy, Aeroflot Group has outlined targets for its Pobeda subsidiary to carry between 25 and 30 million passengers by 2023, up from the 7.2 million it served last year. With a fleet of 50 aircraft, the airline could carry some 18 million passengers, industry experts estimate. So, clearly, without the additional aircraft, its targets will be severely compromised. UAC’s president Yury Slyusar has previously revealed that series production plans for the MC-21 include the assembly of 10 units in its first year and 20 in the second, reaching a maximum output of 72 aircraft a year by its seventh year of production. Another obvious area of concern is that the low-cost airline business model is based on high intensity operations that require reliable, proven aircraft, not those suffering from ‘childhood’ growing pains. “It’s virtually impossible to achieve dense utilisation with new aircraft,” stresses Boris Rybak, director at Infomost Consulting. Furthermore, it will take years to build a substantial aftermarket support system for the MC-21, including a network of spare parts inventories and maintenance service providers, the expert analyst adds. In 2017, LCC Pobeda averagely flew its Boeings for 13.2 hours per day. By contrast, UAC has guaranteed to customer Aeroflot a fixed daily minimum MC-21 flight utilisation rate of 5.8 hours in its first year of service and 7.8 and 10.3 hours per day in the next two subsequent years.

Air Astana takes delivery of its second Embraer 190-E2 aircraft

пн, 11/03/2019 - 00:00
The second new-generation Embraer E190-E2 jet for Kazakhstan flag carrier Air Astana has arrived at Astana airport, following ferry flights from the manufacturer’s factory at São José dos Campos, Brazil. It is the second of five upgraded E-Jets that are due to be delivered to Air Astana following an order originally placed in 2017. The twin-engine, single-aisle E2 aircraft are being delivered under operational lease contracts from AerCap. Deliveries of the remaining aircraft are expected throughout 2019. The newly delivered aircraft is configured with 12 seats in business class and 96 in economy. The first commercial flight of the second E190-E2 is expected on March 31 on the carrier’s Almaty-Uralsk route. The airliner will fly across Kazakhstan to cities in Russia, as well as to the capital of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and the Chinese city of Urumqi. The first E2 airliner was received in December 2018, and features a distinctive snow leopard livery, which is an official symbol of Kazakhstan. Air Astana currently operates a fleet of nine older Embraer E190 aircraft on domestic and low-density regional routes, with the first aircraft having entered service in 2011. The new-generation Embraer E190-E2 will gradually replace the first-generation E190s in its fleet, with some lease agreements due to expire this year.

S7 Technics to offer repairs to Honeywell auxiliary power units in Russia

вт, 05/03/2019 - 00:00
American multi-industry conglomerate Honeywell and S7 Technics, Russia’s leading independent provider of aircraft maintenance services, have reached an agreement to create a maintenance and repair station for two types of Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) of the 131-9A/B and RE-220 versions, the first such facility of its kind in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States. The announcement was made at the MRO Russia & CIS convention currently held in Moscow. The former APU is installed on the world’s most popular Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 narrow-body aircraft, and the latter on the Russian-built Superjet 100 regional jets. It is also possible to further expand the project’s capability to include maintenance of a third type, the HGT750 APU, which is installed on the nascent MC-21 aircraft that is currently undergoing certification in Russia. The licence agreement, which has already been signed by both parties, makes S7 Technics the official Honeywell Channel partner, and as such it will be entitled to provide authorised APU maintenance services to customers. The inaugural maintenance shop for the Honeywell-made 131-9A/B and the RE-220 APUs is to be located in Russia and will operate under EASA Part 145 approval. The details of the facility’s exact location and size are to be finalised at the end of this year and, after that, the partners will purchase and install the necessary equipment, including a test bench. In the first stages the project will require a staff of 20 engineers and technicians who will be hired and trained especially for the new facility. The shop is scheduled to become fully operational in 2020 and within three years will reach an annual capacity of 50 units. S7 Technics shall perform APU Depot Level Maintenance which is defined as total disassembly, inspection, repair, reassembly and functional test of an engine. The new Honeywell service capability will contribute to helping airlines in Russia and CIS save time and financial resources on shipping their APUs abroad. By signing the agreement with Honeywell, S7 Technics has acquired yet another partner with a global name in aviation. In 2016 the Russian company partnered with Swiss SR Technics to launch CFM56 engine shop and Zodiac Aerospace Services to set up lavatory equipment repair facilities. In 2017, the Novosibirsk-based TAT Engineering, a joint venture between Israeli TAT Technologies and S7 Technics, launched services for aircraft heat exchanger equipment maintenance.

Irkut to build an additional MC-21 prototype to test its Russian engines

пт, 01/03/2019 - 00:00
Russian aircraft manufacturer Irkut, which is part of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), is to build an additional dedicated flying prototype of its MC-21-300 airliner to be used specifically for flight tests of the Russian-built PD-14 engine, the second engine option for the advanced narrow-body. The first four flying prototypes have been allocated for certification testing of the aircraft’s base version – which is powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1400G GTF engines. For PD-14 testing purposes, Irkut is intending to modify the first serially built MC-21, the manufacturer revealed on February 26. A spokesman for the corporation also told Russian Aviation Insider that the assembly is scheduled to be complete by late 2019 or early 2020. No timeframe for the PD-14-equipped aircraft flight tests has been revealed. Irkut and the engine manufacturer UEC-Perm Motors signed the contract for the delivery of the PD-14 for testing in January 2018, with the assumption that the engines would be delivered in the same year. At the time, Irkut scheduled the first flight for 2019, to satisfy the 2021 certification timeframe. The engine won its type certificate in late 2018. Irkut is now clearly in a rush to complete the certification testing of the base version of the MC-21, as the programme is now several years behind its initial schedule. Yury Borisov, Russia’s vice-premier tasked to oversee aircraft industry, emphasised during a visit to the Irkutsk Aviation Plant that the target is to have the aircraft certified in 2020 and the launch of serial production in 2021. There are currently two MC-21-300s powered by PW1400G prototypes involved in the testing. The third and fourth prototypes are now scheduled to join in March and July. The previous plan was for one of these aircraft to be modified for the PD-14, but Irkut has now abandoned that idea in order to not delay the certification any further. Earlier, the Russian government urged UAC to come up with a proposition to replace all foreign-made components with Russian-made parts on the aircraft after US political sanctions interfered with the deliveries of materials for the MC-21’s composite wing. However, Irkut appears to be in no hurry to abandon the PW1400G in favour of the PD-14. “We are not rejecting the partnership with Pratt&Whitney. We won’t take any steps to upset that partnership,” Yury Borisov assured.

Thai start-up Kom Airlines to get first Superjet 100 this autumn

пт, 01/03/2019 - 00:00
South-East Asia will soon see commercial operator of the Superjet 100 (SSJ100) aircraft again. Thailand’s start-up Kom Airlines Company Ltd firmed its letter of intent for six SSJ100 regional jets signed with Russian manufacturer, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co (SCAC) two months ago. The carrier that is still in the process of being created is ‘expected to get delivery of its first SSJ100 during autumn’, a SCAC statement reads. According to the terms of the contract, the aircraft, configured to 100-seat single economy class, are to be delivered in the 2019-2020 period. The airline will use the jets for both domestic and international services in the region. Total value of the contract is about US$300 million at catalog prices. Local MRO provider WishV is to support the airline’s SSJ100 maintenance needs. WishV, with its hangar facility located at U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport, is currently qualified to work with Embraer, Boeing, Cessna, Dassault, Bell Helicopter and Bombardier aircraft, and is in the process of obtaining approval for an SSJ100 maintenance station in Thailand. Kom Airlines will be the first SSJ 100 commercial operator in Thailand and Southeast Asia. During some time in the 2013-2014 period, the Indonesian airline Sky Aviation and Laos’ Lao Central Airlines both briefly operated Superjet 100s, before the two went out of business. Three Sukhoi 100LRs – in VIP configuration – have been in service in Thailand since 2016 and are operated by the country’s Royal Air Force.

EASA test team completes the initial session of MC-21 certification flights

ср, 13/02/2019 - 00:00
The flight test team of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has completed the first flight testing session of Russia’s advanced MC-21-300 narrow-body twin jet certification campaign. Participation of EASA in the testing of the new aircraft is a prerequisite to its final validation by the European agency. During the certification tests, the behaviour of the MC-21-300 was evaluated in various modes, including high angles of attack and stalling. Flights of durations from 2.5 to four hours were performed at altitudes ranging from three to 10 km. The new Russian civil aircraft was under the control of an EASA test pilot, with a counterpart from the Yakovlev Design Bureau (a branch of Irkut Corporation) monitoring the performance of flight modes. Flight crew also included Russian and EASA flight test engineers who analysed current flight parameters. Prior to obtaining permission to fly on the MC-21, two test pilots and an EASA flight test engineer completed theoretical and practical training procedures in September 2018. “The completion of the first session of certification flights by the EASA crew is an important stage in the development of the MC-21 programme,” notes Denis Manturov, Russia’s minister for industry and trade. He adds that the participation of EASA representatives in flight tests is a continuation of the large joint work effort being carried out by specialists from the Russian aviation authorities, the European Aviation Safety Agency, as well as industrial enterprises, a statement from aircraft manufacturer UAC explains. “Obtaining the European certificate will open the international market for the MC-21-300,” the government minister points out. The overall certification and approvals process for the MC-21 has been postponed recently, with tests of the first variant of the airliner, powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines, now scheduled to complete in the second half of 2020. The aircraft’s entry into service date was previously set for 2019. The MC-21 is Russia’s advanced narrow-body airliner project that is being developed by the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which is now part of Rostec, and is sponsored directly with funds from the Russian federal budget. A total of 10.5 billion roubles (US$160 million) of state subsidies will be additionally available within the next three years for the new aircraft’s development. According to a report published in the autumn of 2018 by Russia’s Audit Chamber, some 158 billion roubles has already been allocated to the development of the MC-21. Up to 2025, the total cost of the programme is now estimated at 437.4 billion roubles and may increase even further.

Russian government allocates an additional 10.5 billion roubles for the MC-21 project

ср, 06/02/2019 - 00:00
The MC-21, Russia’s advanced narrow-body airliner programme being developed by the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), which is now part of Rostec, remains under the close supervision of the country’s government, which is also continuing to contribute sponsorship funds directly from the federal budget. The latest allocation of state funds authorised by government decree and which came into effect today (February 6), is in line with the government’s aim to support Russia’s emerging aerospace industry in the period between 2013 and 2025. It provides for a total of 10.5 billion roubles (US$160 million) of state subsidies within the next three years for the MC-21. This year’s injection of 1.6 billion roubles, plus a further 4.11 billion in 2020 and 4.81 billion in 2021, will cover up to 90 per cent of the manufacturer’s production, sales and after-sales support costs, as well as 90 per cent of interest payments on loans associated with the programme. Also eligible are the costs of flight simulators, ground-handling equipment and spare parts inventories. Prime minister Dmitry Medvedev last week summoned the country’s vice-premiers to discuss the programme’s progress. Both the latest funds allocation and the meeting took place in the knowledge that recent US anti-Russian sanctions are affecting the manufacture of composite wing and tail-fin components for the MC-21 – by UAC’s subsidiary Aerocomposit and Rostec’s Obninsk Technologiya. Hence, discussion about the replacement of foreign-made components with Russian substitutes was high on the agenda and was led by vice-prime minister Yury Borisov who promised that, by 2022, up to 97 per cent of the aircraft’s parts will be produced within Russia. “Ministry of industry and trade, jointly with the United Aircraft Corporation, have elaborated a roadmap for replacing the foreign-made components used on the aircraft with Russian-made parts,” he pointed out, emphasising that the programme will eventually be “virtually independent” of foreign-made parts. The meeting covered several other key issues, including the programme’s time-line. The launch of serial production is already underway, reported Borisov. “Production of parts and units of those MC-21-300s intended for customers is in progress and certification tests are scheduled to complete in the second half of 2020. As of today, 122 flights have been made. Everything is in line with the schedule. We have no doubts that the aircraft will enter service in its due time,” he affirmed, also pointing out that the backlog currently includes 175 firm orders, which have already been paid for. Aeroflot, the new aircraft’s launch customer, has already placed an order for 50 MC-21-300s, in a deal approved by the majority of the airline’s shareholders in the summer of 2018. With the first of these deliveries scheduled for the first quarter of 2020, there is no explanation of how a programme delay – indirectly suggested by Borisov (‘certification tests are scheduled to complete in the second half of 2020’) – may affect the national carrier’s plans. According to a report published in the autumn of 2018 by Russia’s Audit Chamber, a total sum of 158 billion roubles has already been allocated to the development of the MC-21. Up to 2025, the total cost of the programme is now estimated at 437.4 billion roubles and may increase even further.

Superjet 100 production rates reduced by third in 2018

ср, 16/01/2019 - 00:00
Russian manufacturer Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC) last year considerably – by one third – has reduced the number of Superjet 100 regional jets produced, compared to successful 2017. SCAC has built just 23 SSJ100s in 2018, 11 aircraft short of 2017 output. The significant reduction of production rates is believed to be linked to the shortage of PowerJet SaM146 engines, which power the Russian regional jet. SCAC’s president Alexander Rubtsov earlier explained, that in an effort to improve aircraft after sales support, the manufacturer had to release some of the engines intended for newly produced aircraft to its parent United Engine Corporation for the purpose of creating a pool of spare engines for SSJ100 operators. Sukhoi Civil told Russian Aviation Insider, that last year it delivered 22 aircraft to their operators - eight via GTLK leasing company to Severstal Airlines and Azimuth Airlines (four each), 13 to Aeroflot, and one VIP-configured aircraft was delivered to That Royal Air Force, the only SSJ100 overseas delivery in 2018. Shortage of available engines also will affect SCAC’s production targets for this year, because now the manufacturer is eager to sell those aircraft that it already built and has in stock - by the end of last year the number of such aircraft reached 15, four if are gliders which had no engines. However, SCAC still intends to assemble at least 23 aircraft this year, though said the number “may be insignificantly changed in proportion with the market requirements.” In addition to 22 new aircraft delivered in 2018, SCAC also sold four SSJ100s from those it had produced earlier. This year the total deliveries are expected to reach 30  -- 22 new aircraft and eight those built earlier.

Rostec takes ownership of 83 per cent of UAC

пн, 14/01/2019 - 00:00
In line with the Russian government’s October decision to hand control of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) – parent of Russia’s major aircraft manufacturers Sukhoi, MiG and Irkut – to state-owned technology and aviation giant Rostec, the latter is pushing ahead to take over UAC’s shares from current owner Rosimuschestvo, the federal agency for state-owned property management. The integration process was originally scheduled to be completed within 18 months but, in just a month, as of November 2018, Rostec has already acquired more than 83.89 per cent of UAC’s equity, according to a list of UAC’s affiliated owners published last week. At the same time, the shareholding of Rosimuschestvo decreased from its original 92.31 to 8.9 per cent. The remaining 4.47 per cent of UAC is owned by state-run VEB bank and 3.22 per cent remains in the hands of private investors, according to the corporation’s website. The acquisition is aligned with Rostec’s ambition to consolidate all Russian national aviation monopoly assets in its hands. The corporation already controls Russian Helicopters, the country’s rotorcraft specialist, aircraft engine manufacturer United Engine Corporation and some 750 aircraft components producers that supply up to 70 per cent of parts for UAC’s own aircraft programmes. The resulting structure is remarkably similar to the former Soviet Union’s Ministry of Aviation, in an aviation cluster estimated to have an annual turnover of some US$15 billion.

Thailand’s Kom Airlines signs LoI for six Superjet 100s

сб, 29/12/2018 - 00:00
Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) has moved a step closer to extending its slender Asian customer base with the signing a letter of intent (LoI) with Thailand’s start-up Kom Airlines, which is considering the acquisition of six Superjet 100 aircraft and aims to confirm a firm order in 2019. As with other recent deals for the Russian regional jet, SCAC is proposing to add maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) support for the operator. The LoI was signed during a December 27 visit to Thailand of Denis Manturov, Russia’s minister of industry and trade. According to the terms of the accord, the aircraft are to be delivered in the 2019-2020 period if, as anticipated, the agreement is turned into a firm order in the first half of 2019, a SCAC statement reads. Kom Airlines is reportedly interested in the 100-seat single economy class configuration of the Superjet and is considering using the aircraft for both domestic and international services in the region. To address the challenging SSJ100 after-sales support issue, Sukhoi Civil has signed another LoI with local MRO provider WishV to support the maintenance needs of the SSJ100. Accordingly, WishV is in the process of obtaining approval for an SSJ100 maintenance station in Thailand, says SCAC. Its hangar facility is located at U-Tapao Rayong-Pattaya International Airport, a joint military-civil airport within the Royal Thai Navy’s Sattahip Naval Base, which is 30 km from Pattaya city. WishV is currently qualified to work with Embraer, Boeing, Cessna, Dassault, Bell Helicopter and Bombardier aircraft. Three Sukhoi 100LRs – in VIP configuration – have been in service in Thailand since 2016 and are operated by the country’s Royal Air Force.

Russia’s Severstal takes delivery of its first Superjet 100

пт, 28/12/2018 - 00:00
Russian regional carrier Severstal Airlines, which is owned by steel and mining giant Severstal, has taken delivery of its first Superjet 100 and entry into service for its initial Russian regional jet is planned for early 2019. The aircraft, with registration number RA-89117, was delivered to the airline on December 26 and is currently at its Cherepovets home base airport. It features a convertible cabin, which affords seating capacity adjustments, and offers between 100 single economy class seats, or a two-class 93-seat configuration with eight in business. The company’s SSJ100s are being taken on a 12-year term financial lease from State Transport Leasing Company (known by the acronym GTLK), Russia’s largest leasing company. GTLK is to deliver three more Superjets to Severstal within the period 2018-2019. The airline also has an option for another two aircraft. Russian regional jets are to replace airline’s entire fleet of ageing Bombardier CRJ200s. Severstal’s order is for the SSJ100 B100 version with the more powerful SaM146-1S18 engines for improved runway performance. The airline also plans to retrofit its SSJ100 fleet with blended winglets (nicknamed saberlets), which are currently being tested by the aircraft’s manufacturer Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC). Severstal is poised to be one of the early operators of the saberlets-equipped Superjets. The arrival of the Russian-made aircraft in the Severstal fleet renewal programme will stimulate passenger traffic growth, it is hoped. The airline currently operates six 50-seat Bombardier CRJ200s and one 32-seat Yakovlev Yak-40. In 2017, the Cherepovets-based airline carried some 240,900 passengers, up 4.3 per cent on the previous year. Severstal Airlines, a subsidiary of steel and mining giant Severstal, which is majority-owned and controlled by Russian tycoon Alexey Mordashov, performs domestic and international scheduled and charter flights across Russia, the CIS countries and also to Europe.

PHOTO: Irkut rolls out its third flying prototype of the MC-21

пт, 28/12/2018 - 00:00
Russian corporation Irkut, which is part of the United Aircraft Corp (UAC), has completed the assembly of a third flight-test MC-21-300 aircraft, the country’s advanced narrow-body airliner. During the production of the latest prototype, flight test results and recommendations were taken into account from two previous aircraft tests. The third prototype was rolled out from the Irkutsk Aviation Plant, a branch of Irkut, on 25 December and Denis Manturov, Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade, had earlier this year revealed that this latest aircraft is scheduled to take to the air in March 2019. The assembly of the fourth MC-21 prototype is being carried out, with a planned initial flight scheduled for mid-2019. “Adding more aircraft to flight test programme and the revitalisation of the production of serial aircraft are the main tasks for 2019,” insists said Yury Slyusar, president of United Aircraft Corporation. Meanwhile, the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) is continuing to perform static tests on the MC-21 aircraft. Currently, the fuselage of the second static test MC-21 is being prepared to launch endurance tests, which are aimed at proving the viability of the fuselage design in terms of fatigue strength and operational survivability. Currently, two Pratt & Whitney PW1400G-powered MC-21 units are taking part in flight certification tests. It is planned that this variant of the MC-21 will be certificated in 2020, a date recently re-postponed from its original schedule. The second variant of the MC-21 – one powered by Russia’s PD-14 engines – is expected to fly by the end of 2019.

Superjet’s SaM146 engine receives ETOPS approval

чт, 27/12/2018 - 00:00
Europe’s aviation authorities have granted 120-minute ETOPS approval of the PowerJet SaM146 turbofan engine that powers the Russian-made Superjet 100 (SSJ100) regional jet aircraft. This means it is allowed to fly distances covered by 120 minutes of flight time from the nearest suitable aerodrome and thus affords more route-planning flexibility to SSJ100 operators. ETOPS, which stands for Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards, is particularly valuable for the SBJ business-jet version of the SSJ100 which will have its range extended to 7,200 km next year, enabling it to connect Moscow and Vladivostok with non-stop flights, for example. Since the vast eastern part of Russia possesses only a sprinkling of airports – even less with 24-hour operational capabilities – the extended-range approval will come in handy for flight planning. The manufacturer of the SaM146 is PowerJet, a joint venture between Russia’s United Engine Corporation and French company Safran, which has long pointed to ETOPS approval as a key development target for the programme, because it is viewed as an additional competitive advantage for SSJ100’s potential customers. In addition, the producer is working on modifications to the engine’s combustion chamber, which is said to have caused problems to operators before. As of September 2018, there were 137 Superjet 100s in operation, and which had collectively made more than 300,000 flights totalling in excess of 460,000 flight hours. In October the SaM146 total time exceeded one million hours.

Sukhoi Civil hoping to sell six more SSJ100s to Thailand

ср, 26/12/2018 - 00:00
A second operator of the Russian-made Superjet 100 (SSJ100) in Asia could be a Thailand-based company. Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co (SCAC), the manufacturer of the regional jet, is preparing to sign a letter of intent (LOI) for six SSJ100s with an unnamed Thai start-up airline before the end of this year, SCAC’s president Alexander Rubtsov has revealed. Should the LOI convert into a firm contract, the manufacturer will then consider setting up a spare parts facility and a maintenance centre covering the Asian region. Three SSJ100LRs – in VIP configuration – have been in operation in Thailand since 2016, and are operated by the country’s Royal Air Force. The aircraft are operated in the interests of the country’s leaders, top officials and the high command of the armed forces. Switching to another part of the world, Rubtsov says the manufacturer is now considering a maintenance centre for customers in Africa and the Middle East regions. “That’s the objective for next year,” admits the head of Sukhoi Civil. “We already have a customer in Zambia. And we are counting on placing more aircraft in Africa.” The customer that Rubtsov is referring to is the president of Zambia, with one SSJ100 scheduled for delivery in 2019. There are several options for a possible location of the maintenance centre, including in Rwanda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Bahrain. In the Middle East, the manufacturer has recently signed a preliminary agreement with Lebanese Alexcina Airways for 12 aircraft. There is also interest from Iranian carriers for up to 40 SSJ100Rs. The first deliveries to these customers are planned for the first quarter of 2019 and through to 2020, respectively. At present the after-sales support system for the type includes only two maintenance centres, in Moscow and in Venice. The latter, the Customer Care Centre of Russo-Italian joint venture SuperJet International, provides logistics and engineering support to European operators. Spare parts are stored and supplied from warehouses in Moscow (at Zhukovsky and Sheremetyevo airports), as well as at Munich (run by Lufthansa Technik Logistik) and Fort Lauderdale, Florida in the USA. Apart from SCAC’s own maintenance centre at Zhukovsky, there are several third-party maintenance providers that are approved for providing maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for the SSJ100. In Russia these include Aeroflot, A-Technics (part of Aeroflot group), S7 Technics, Tulpar Technic and Yakutia Airlines. Beyond Russia, the relevant aircraft maintenance services are available at Lithuanian FL Technics, Latvian Aviatechservice, Mexico’s Interjet and Germany’s Haitec Aircraft Maintenance.

Russian government challenges ‘grace periods’ for aircraft imports

чт, 20/12/2018 - 00:00
Russian president Vladimir Putin has instructed his government to evaluate the expediency of extending the effective grace period for the import of western-built passenger jet aircraft – and deliver its deliberations by April 2019. The president has also proposed the possibility of a trade-in, part exchange scheme for purchases of Russian-built aircraft. The temporary grace period, during which certain classes of commercial aircraft are exempted from import duties, is in effect until December 31, 2019. It provides tax relief on imported passenger jet aircraft, including the most popular Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families, which are currently temporarily imported to the territory of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), a political and economic union of states located in central and northern Eurasia including Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. The ruling specifically excludes those 50-100 seat aircraft that compete directly with the Russian-made Superjet 100. The mechanisms for state financing of trade-in deals, whereby purchasers of Russian-made aircraft would be able to submit their used aircraft as partial payment, should be in place by June 1, 2019. The president has also ordered the government to come up with a list of additional support measures for the Russian aerospace industry. One of these is the allocation of state funds in 2019, 2020 and 2021 to top up the registered capital of Russian state-owned leasing companies that have Russian aircraft in their portfolios. Another plausible measure is a variety of options for providing subsidies to help Russian aircraft manufacturers during the initial stages of setting up serial production and bringing new aircraft models to the market. The manufacturers may also be given help in the restructuring of their outstanding debts with Russian financial institutions, situations that have resulted from credits for aircraft design and production. The government is hopeful that once the import duty grace period is over and the trade-in options scheme is in place, Russian airlines will then be more inclined to purchase locally-produced aircraft. However, the grace period has already been extended once – until the end of 2019 – in advance of the expected entry into service of the MC-21 advanced narrow-body scheduled for 2020. As for the trade-in scheme, this idea is not new. It was an option investigated last year by the nation’s ministries of transport, finance and trade.

UEC-Perm Motors focuses on after-sales support for the PD-14 aero engine

ср, 19/12/2018 - 00:00
Whilst all design, certification and operational documentation for the PD-14, the new Russian-made aero engine, is scheduled to be finalised by June 2019 – ahead of the first flight later in the year on its prime platform, the MC-21 advanced narrow-body aircraft – the project’s aftersales support programme development is in full swing, reveals Nikolay Durnovtsev, deputy director of advanced projects department at engine manufacturer UEC-Perm Motors. In an untypical move for the Russian aviation industry, that work was started simultaneously with the launch of the programme. With maintenance cost reduction in mind, the designers have opted for a modular engine structure, which allows separate modules, or blocks, to be quickly replaced. The resulting Quick Engine Change (QUE) time is now less than four hours, and individual blocks can be changed in just 30 minutes, he says. The United Engine Corporation (UEC), parent company of the engine manufacturer UEC-Perm Motors, reports that its repair facilities for the PD-14 are now in place and are capable of handling up to 50 engines per year. The challenge for the company is that the components for the engine are produced by enterprises all over Russia, and will have to be forwarded. “In fact, for the maintenance period, we spread the engine all across the country, and have 90 days to get and assemble everything back together,” Durnovtsev says. Once the PD-14 enters service, other UEC subsidiaries, such as UEC-Saturn and UMPO, will join in the maintenance processes to both improve the quality and reduce down time, with customers enjoying a one-stop-shop relationship. UEC has pledged to reduce the project’s direct maintenance costs by reducing the number of labour-intense procedures, whilst also extending maintenance intervals. The modular structure is expected to help save time and money, thereby reducing overall operational costs. The manufacturer is also working on plans for a spare parts inventory and an engine exchange facility.

New dates for MAKS 2019 announced

вт, 18/12/2018 - 00:00
The next chapter of Moscow’s MAKS, the largest and oldest air show on the territory of the former Soviet Union, is to take place from August 27 to September 1, 2019, at its conventional Zhukovsky site, reports Aviasalon, which has once again been appointed by the Russian ministry of industry and trade to serve as organiser of the event. The previous dates, set for July 23-28, have been put back to avoid a clash with the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD)-endorsed and organised event, the military-technical forum Army-2019, which has now been promoted from a biennial event to an annual frequency. In times when companies associated with Russia’s defence industry are not necessarily welcome at western events, the country’s MoD has opted to start its forum the very next day after the closing of the Le Bourget-based International Paris Air Show, arguably the world’s oldest and largest aerospace and defence exhibition. As far as MAKS 2019 is concerned, Russia is working hard to welcome China as its country partner. Denis Manturov, minister of industry and trade, revealed this possibility for the first time in October. Since its inception in 1993, MAKS has been held every odd calendar year, as a biennial event. Since 2005, Russian Aviation Insider and its sister publication ATO.ru have been providing coverage as the official show daily as Show Observer.

PD-14-powered MC-21 airliner to fly in late 2019

вт, 18/12/2018 - 00:00
Russia’s United Engine Corporation (UEC) and Irkut Corporation, manufacturer of the MC-21, have coordinated their plans for the timely integration and launch of flight testing of the PD-14-powered version of the Russian aircraft. Currently the advanced narrow-body is undergoing flight tests, but with its first engine option, the Pratt & Whitney PW1400G. The Russian engine-maker and airframer have agreed to have all design, certification and operational documentation finalised by June 2019, thereby achieving approval for the first flight by July, says Nikolay Durnovtsev, deputy director of the advanced project department at UEC-Perm Motors. The engine producer is currently finishing the final assembly of the pilot batch of PD-14 turbofans (serial numbers 100-14/15/16) intended for flight testing on the MC-21, and is planning to deliver them to Irkut before the end of this year. The project is nevertheless several months behind schedule, which initially had its first flight pencilled in for the second quarter of next year, but this has now been shifted to the final quarter, with the exact date still to be announced by Irkut. In the meantime, UEC-Perm Motors is assembling engines number 100-17 and 18, scheduled to enter the testing programme in 2020. "It is practically the first time in Russia that an engine is being delivered as an integrated powerplant, which includes air inlet, cowling doors and thrust reverser," Durnovtsev emphasises. UEC-Perm Motors’ facilities are currently undergoing EASA certification procedures and the PD-14 received its Russian type certificate in October 2018. So far, more than a dozen engines have been built, and the company has signalled its readiness for full-scale serial production. A bonus is that the engine's predominantly Russian-made components make it "independent of currency fluctuations," Durnovtsev points out. However, he admits that it has not been possible to completely avoid foreign-made parts. "At present, there are 142 part positions which are imported, mostly for economic reasons. For example, it is cheaper to purchase gaskets and washers elsewhere, than in Russia. Key elements such as the combustion chamber are made in Russia. If required though, within two or three years, we'll be able to make the switch to solely Russian-made parts, but it will have a slightly negative effect on the weight. And when it comes to weight, we are strictly limited by Irkut's requirements," Durnovtsev further explains. Meanwhile, two flight prototypes of the MC-21 powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1400G geared turbofans are currently proceeding with their trials, and will be joined by the third prototype in March of next year. The fourth aircraft is scheduled to fly in mid-2019, Russia’s ministry of industry and trade has reported. The PW-1400G-powered version of the MC-21 is scheduled for certification in 2020 and the PD-14 version is expected to receive its approval in 2021.

New details of the SaM146-powered Be-200 project are revealed

вт, 11/12/2018 - 00:00
Re-engined with PowerJet SaM 146 turbofans, Russia’s Beriev Be-200 amphibian is scheduled to make its maiden flight in March 2020, with Russian certification delayed until November 2021. The latest details have been revealed by Ilya Konyukhov, the UEC-Saturn project’s director, in a presentation at a recent industry event in Moscow. The first of several new engines for the programme will be supplied in December 2019. The SaM-146 engine is a product of PowerJet, a joint venture between Russia’s NPO Saturn (part of United Engine Corporation, UEC) and French manufacturer Snecma (part of the Safran Group) and is currently deployed on only one platform, the slowly unwinding Superjet 100 (SSJ100) Russian regional jet programme. As such, the limited fleet of SSJ100s is impeding the engine’s timely development towards more economically viable production rates. This is where the Be-200 re-engining solution fits in. According to the project schedule, the adopted version of the engine and its nacelle is to be certificated in Russia by late 2020, whilst certification of the re-engined aircraft – dubbed Be-200ChS-146 – has now been shifted to November 2021. The project leaders are hoping to eventually win type certification from Europe’s EASA and USA’s FAA, thus opening up international market opportunities for the aircraft. The prospect of replacing the engine type has been mulled over for some time, but was finally announced at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in May and, at the seaplane and amphibian show in Gelenzhik in September, the Be-200 stirred considerable interest. For example, US company Seaplane Global Air Services signed a contract for 10 Be-200s, including four firm orders. “Two of them will be delivered with the [existing] D-436 engines in place but, further ahead, the entire fleet will be re-engined with the SaM146s. This is one of the contract’s provisions,” explains Konyukhov. The little known US firm intends to dry- and wet-lease its Be-200s to operators worldwide, it states. Furthermore, an order for two Be-200s – with an option for an additional three – was signed by Chile-based Asesorias CBP. The Russian aircraft manufacturer has also negotiated with Israeli SHZ Aviation regarding financing of Be-200 deliveries to Asian customers, primarily in Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines. A round of negotiations was also conducted with a Chinese delegation. Overall, the resulting interest is assessed at nearly 60 re-engined aircraft, which translates to at least 120 engines, Konyukhov adds. The plan to re-engine the Beriev Be-200 was first raised some five years ago in recognition of the need to improve the aircraft’s performance. Back then it was not associated with Russia’s degrading relationship with Ukraine, which has affected the Ukrainian engine maker Motor Sich, the producer of Be-200’s D-436 engines. But the project received a new stimulus in February this year – the schedule was finally sketched and its various aspects were coordinated with Russia’s ministry for industry and trade, as well as PowerJet partners Safran and UEC, paving the way for a contract signing in May. Commenting on the role of the French company in the project, Konyukhov says they were “in charge of the main part – making engine control possible within its new application. This means, it is amending the laws of the engine control and making appropriate changes in the software which controls the engine.” The new engine option will increase the Be-200’s operational ceiling, allowing the aircraft to be ferried between its mission destinations at altitudes above 10,000m. This, in turn, will result in as much as a 17 per cent improved fuel efficiency compared to the Ukrainian-made D-436TP. The weight of the aircraft will not change.

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