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Russia’s state Medevac programme on life-support

вт, 08/10/2019 - 00:00
The Russian authorities are looking for ways to improve the contractual process and the real-time monitoring and control of medevac service suppliers. Instituted almost three years ago, Russia’s State Medevac Programme was created to solve two long-lasting national problems: the first to provide efficient medical coverage across the nation’s vast territories, especially in Siberia and the Russian Far East in which there are almost no alternative transportation solutions available; and the second, which is almost equally important in the eyes of the Russian government, to support a sustainable production rate at local helicopter manufacturing facilities currently suffering from a dramatic reduction of export sales. In the 2017–2019 period, the Russian government spent some 14 billion roubles (approximately US$230 million) on medevac services delivered by a number of contracted Russian helicopter operators. Some 80 per cent of the cost was funded by the federal budget, with the rest allocated by authorities in 50 regions covering 90 per cent of Russian land territory and containing 60 per cent of the country’s population. The biggest purchaser of medevac services was the republic of Yakutia, a large eastern Siberian region with a territory of 3.1 million square kilometres. In the period, Yakutia spent 1.3 billion roubles ($21.7 million) on medevac services. According to official sources, the Russian government plans to allocate 15.3 billion roubles for medevac services in the 2020-2022 period, with only 62 per cent provided by the federal government, numbers that indicate increased financial contributions from local authorities. In the meantime, GTLK, the state transport leasing company, using government supplied funding, has ordered 110 helicopters specially configured for medevac missions. At a cost of 40.6 billion roubles ($680 million), these include 81 heavy Mil Mi-8АMT/MTVs and 29 light Ansat helicopters, according to Sergey Khramagin, GTLK’s chief executive. 76 medevac-configured units have already been delivered to different operators, with the remainder to be supplied in the 2019-2020 period. The latest additions to the existing medevac fleet are two Ansat helicopters manufactured at the Kazan Helicopter Plant and which were delivered from GTLK to SKOL Helicopter Company earlier this month. SKOL was intensively involved in the state-funded medevac programme during the 2017-2019 period, even though this company was subjected to severe criticism from both medical and aviation authorities following a string of alleged violations of contractual obligations and poor performance levels. Early in 2018, the Irkutsk District Center for Emergency Medical Services was forced to react directly to electronically generated emergency requests, even though it is SKOL that is designated to cover the Irkutsk district, a large region in eastern Siberia. During the first months of the contract period, it is alleged that the service provider sometimes failed to respond to patients requiring urgent transportation. In several instances, to save the lives of patients, sometimes children, the Irkutsk Medical Center was forced to lease in helicopter services from third-party operators. It is believed there were other contractual violations, including the passing on of duties to other helicopter subcontractors – including to those organisations prohibited by contract – that were different to those contractual requirements and incapable of performing such missions. In doing so, the Irkutsk Medical Center had unilaterally terminated its contract by initiating a new tender procedure to select a new service provider and therefore incurred related financial and time losses. On numerous occasions, the life and health of some of the centre’s patients were placed in serious danger. In September 2019, a similar situation happened with the same helicopter operator in Udmurtya republic, a region between the Volga River and the Ural mountains. The First Republican Clinical Hospital had suffered from several instances of the provider failing to supply helicopters, as well as changes in helicopter types normally used in missions and other contractual violations – and decided to terminate its contract. Again, the medical service centre was forced to initiate a new bid to select a new helicopter provider, thereby suffering financial losses whilst also endangering the lives of patients requiring emergency medical services. Among other violations regarded as common practice for medevac service providers is the location of helicopters away from properly prepared helipads; the misuse of medical equipment or modules; the substitution of contractually defined helicopters with other types; and the use of unqualified subcontractors. One example is when a SKOL helicopter – one that was acquired through the state medevac scheme – was seen in Africa flying commercial missions, even though it should have been on medevac duty in Siberia. The obvious cause of the above violations is the inefficient system of governmental contracting employed by regional medical centres. This electronic system, mostly based on ‘the cheapest win’ principle, carries a number of inherent risks that inevitably arise in real life situations and do not therefore guarantee trouble-free operations. The existing electronic tender procedures often result in the selection of bidders who are unable to perform to contract requirements – or even perform at all. The Russian authorities are looking for ways to improve this contractual process and the real-time monitoring and control of medevac contractors. A new, improved system would result in the selection of more reliable suppliers, those capable of providing timely, reliable, quality and – most importantly – life-saving services.

Russia’s Rostec considers three development scenarios for United Aircraft Corporation

ср, 02/10/2019 - 00:00
Russia’s state-owned technology and aviation giant Rostec has prepared three future development scenarios for United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the parent company of the country’s major aircraft manufacturers Sukhoi, MiG and Irkut, reports Kommersant business daily. One year ago the Russian government handed control of 92 per cent of UAC to Rostec, with the full acquisition to be completed in 2020. All three scenarios require the government to subsidise Rostec to the tune of 350 billion roubles (US$5.4 billion) in order to settle massive debts, including 182 billion of past years’ losses, 63 billion of outstanding investments in research and development programmes, 59 billion of clients’ pending obligations, and 46 billion of UAC’s bonds issued to cover the historical 2011 deficit. According to some estimates, up to August of this year, UAC’s bank debt total had reached 509 billion roubles. If the government subsidy is provided this debt will reduce to 159 billion, leaving 89 billion still to be restructured. Apart from the government subsidy, Rostec’s first scenario also includes the elimination of non-core assets from the balance sheet, the optimisation of land parcels and unused production areas and the adjustment of inventory in accordance with the aircraft production programmes. Rostec believes that those measures may collectively improve UAC’s financial position but will not solve all the problems due to “insufficient production capacity utilisation and overstaffing” and therefore, in a few years time, Russia’s aviation industry will again require further government subsidies. The second scenario involves the drastic scaling down of Russia’s aircraft industry by reducing the number of final assembly sites and component production companies, and also by cutting staff numbers. Last year, salary costs were responsible for about 60 per cent of all of UAC’s expenses, costing the company a total of 89.4 billion roubles. Those measures will allow the company to reach breakeven even without an increase in orders. Apart from the optimisation, the third scenario sees Rostec receiving massive government support for the large-scale sale of Russian-produced aircraft, with the State Transport Leasing Company (known by its Russian acronym GTLK) setting up a new regional airline that will operate only Russian-built Superjet 100 and MC-21 aircraft. This plan would also require the government to subsidise the interest rate costs on credit and leasing finances. Meanwhile, in the military aircraft segment, Rostec aims to work with the Ministry of Defence, using the trade-in scheme. According to the proposal, the Ministry will hand older aircraft to Rostec and acquire new ones in return. The used units would then be modernised and sold at discounted prices to foreign buyers. Rostec believes that this proposal will allow the industry to return to profitability and “once again become one of the largest aircraft manufacturers in the world”. The acquisition of UAC remains aligned with Rostec’s ambition to consolidate all of Russia’s 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 – which is remarkably similar to that of the former Soviet Union’s Ministry of Aviation – is an aviation cluster estimated to have an annual turnover of some US$15 billion. Russian President Vladimir Putin has reportedly awarded Sergey Chemezov, general director of Rostec with one of Russia's highest state awards - the Order of Hero of Russia, Vedomosti daily wrote today.

NordStar joins International Air Transport Association

пт, 13/09/2019 - 00:00
Regional air carrier NordStar Airlines has become Russia’s latest member of the International Air Transport Association (IATA) global airlines’ grouping. Membership of the worldwide association, which consists of some 300 airlines, will encourage NordStar to adopt the best international practices, introduce the latest technologies and passenger services, benefit from new and established IATA products and share initiatives on aviation industry development with colleagues, the airline believes. NordStar, which is wholly owned by Russia’s Norilsk Nickel MMC mining and smelting giant, is also hoping to develop cooperative relationships with other participants in the global airline business, in particular entering into code-share agreements, expanding its geography of flights, as well as upgrading its range of offerings to passengers, the airline says in a statement. The first step towards joining the association was the completion by NordStar of an IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) in 2017. 10 Russian airlines are currently members of IATA. They are Aeroflot and its subsidiary Rossiya Airlines, Nordavia (Smartavia), Nordwind Airlines, Pegas Fly (Ikar Airlines), S7 Airlines, Ural Airlines, Utair – and also the two specialist cargo carriers of Volga-Dnepr and its subsidiary AirBridgeCargo. NordStar currently operates a fleet of Boeing 737-800 narrow-body airliners and ATR 42-500 turboprops across a network of more than 50 scheduled domestic and international destinations from its base airports at Moscow’s Domodedovo and Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. The airline has three Boeing 737МАХ-8 aircraft in order. In the first seven months of this year, the airline, which is ranked as the 16th largest Russian carrier, transported some 707,120 passengers, down by 14.6 per cent year-on-year.

Russian government allocates funds for SSJ100 parts inventory

вт, 10/09/2019 - 00:00
Russia’s government has approved the allocation of some four billion roubles (US$61.5 million) towards the development of the Superjet 100 (SSJ100) after-sales programme. The funds will be injected into equipping a spare parts inventory and for the implementation of service bulletins (SBs) on the type. To achieve this, manufacturer the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co (SCAC) will receive state subsidies to offset its financial expenditures associated with forming a spare parts inventory of at least 700 components and implementing 64 service bulletins on the aircraft, the official document says. The nation’s industry and trade ministry has been charged with ensuring that the 3.99 billion roubles investment is spent wisely and appropriately and it is to report back to the government by February 1, 2020. As of August of this year, SCAC has built 189 SSJ100s, with 132 currently in service, the vast majority (105) of which are now in the fleets of Russian operators. Russia’s flag carrier Aeroflot is the largest customer for the aircraft, with 49 in its fleet and a further 100 on preliminary order. In August, the national airline announced yet another tender for access to the spare parts inventory for its SSJ100s.

Russia and China on final approach for a major CR929 milestone

пт, 06/09/2019 - 00:00
Russia and China are on final approach for a major milestone in their ambitious joint wide-body passenger airliner programme dubbed the CR929, by deciding on the location and the registration of an engineering centre for the project. Apparently Russia's United Aircraft Corporation has succeeded in convincing its Chinese partner COMAC that the research and development effort for the new programme should be located in Russia. "In September we are expecting the Chinese side to make a positive decision in terms of registering the engineering centre in Russia and entitling it as the developer of the CR929 aircraft," Russia's industry and trade minister Denis Manturov told Vedomosti business daily. Registration of the engineering base will lay the foundations for defining the strategy of the CR929’s certification process. Russian Aviation Insider's source in the Russian aerospace industry has revealed that the centre would be registered as a separate legal entity that, according to aviation regulations, will eventually become the holder of the type certificate for the new Sino-Russian aircraft. As a consequence, the CR929 would have to be certificated in Russia first before undertaking the validation procedures in China. Industry insiders believe that this latest development is hardly an advantage for the future international acceptance of the CR929’s airworthiness – because without endorsements from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) – sales of the CR929 are impossible in major markets outside of China and Russia. While both the FAA and EASA currently recognise the certification competence of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), following recent accords among those parties, American and European authorities’ acceptance of the Russian type certificate is unlikely given the state of current affairs. In late August, the certification authorities of both countries – Russia’s Rosaviatsiya and China’s CAAC – attended a joint meeting with UAC and COMAC and agreed to create a working party for evaluating the certification strategy of the CR929 project. The engineering centre will be a 100 per cent subsidiary of China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Corporation (CRAIC), the joint venture between UAC and COMAC for managing the programme with its headquarters in Shanghai, the future location for the aircraft's final assembly line. Chief designer Maxim Litvinov previously explained that a satellite office of the engineering centre may be set up in Shanghai as well. The CR929 programme is currently at the conceptual design stage, which is scheduled to complete next year, along with the line-up of the first-tier suppliers. The base version of the airliner is designed to carry 280 passengers over distances up to 12,000 km. The maiden flight is scheduled for 2023 and certification between 2025 and 2027. UAC's president Yury Slyusar earlier indicated that the programme has already attracted 200 ‘soft’ orders.

Private Uzbek dormant airline eyes the Superjet 100

ср, 04/09/2019 - 00:00
Private Uzbek airline Qanot Sharq has placed a ‘soft’ order with Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC) for three Russian-built Superjet 100s, reports United Aircraft Corporation, the aircraft manufacturer’s parent company. The letter of intent was signed at last week’s MAKS-2019 Moscow air show. The plan is to lease the aircraft through a yet unnamed financial partner. One of the first privately owned airlines in Uzbekistan, Qanot Sharq was founded in 1998 to carry passengers and freight. In the period between 2003 and 2012 it rented several Ilyushin IL-76 cargo aircraft from national carrier Uzbekistan Airways to perform charter flights, but eventually the IL-76 had to be ceded to the country’s defence ministry and, consequently, Qanot Sharq’s Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) was suspended, which is where it stands now. The decision to revive the dormant carrier as a regional passenger airline came in the light of the Uzbekistan president’s decree last November describing the measures required for “the radical improvement of Uzbekistan’s civil aviation”, Nosir Abdugafarov, Qanot Sharq’s founder, revealed to Kun.uz newswire in August. The idea is to feed passengers from distant regions into the country's bigger hubs, from where they would then continue travelling internationally on Uzbekistan Airways flights. Before committing to the SSJ100, the airline also met with Embraer and Bombardier, two other manufacturers of similar sized regional jets. “We’re now working on our route network and, along with that, we’re building up the organisational structure of the airline,” he said. According to Abdugafarov, the authorities are yet to provide an official response. Although his initiative is praised at all levels, the businessman has also been seeking a meeting with the Uzbek transport ministry for over a month. “The exchange of letters has been going on for over a month now. Frankly speaking, the time [it takes] for the processing of every document is quite long and everything is proceeding very slowly,” he complained. “It seems like they’re willing to support [us], but everything just gets put off. We’ve been offered assistance and advice to discuss the issues, but so far we’ve not been able to meet with anyone.” Thus, a prospective date for the launch of the airline does not depend on him, Abdugafarov admitted. “Realistically, it would take at least two to three months once we have settled all the issues to get the company going. Training pilots and technicians would also take time,” he said. “Currently, we have been receiving offers, both from manufacturers to purchase new aircraft and from leasing companies to rent them. But this cannot be finalised until everything is ready here. We have to confirm our standing.” The company has both the desire and the experience to start such an airline business, but there remain “a million issues” to be resolved first, Abdugafarov admitted. It all boils down to “the will of the authorities,” he stated, attributing the continuous reluctance to start negotiations to the fact that the launch of a new airline is happening during a new reality for Uzbekistan. Typically, it is unclear, for example, how the airline’s frequencies and destinations would be assigned, and how to manage cooperation with airports which are currently part of the state-owned National Aviation Concern/Uzbekistan Airways and are in the process of being separated from it.

S7 owner: Russian industry has scrapped the Superjet 75 project

ср, 04/09/2019 - 00:00
Vladislav Filev, owner and head of the S7 Group, Russia’s second biggest airline grouping, and undoubtedly the most efficient airline business in the region, claims that Russia’s ministry for industry and trade has decided to abandon the Superjet 75 project, the shortened version of Russia’s Superjet 100 regional jet. S7 Airlines had, in April 2018, shown strong interest in – and indeed signed a letter of intent – for 50 SSJ75s, with an option for up to 25 more of the 75-seater aircraft. “Two weeks ago I was at a meeting dedicated to the development of regional aviation and one of the officials of the industry and trade ministry reported that, due to insufficient demand, they would now not be proceeding with the 75-seat version of the Sukhoi Superjet. Their main customer is Aeroflot, which has ordered only the 100-seat version,” Filev told Vedomosti business daily. “At the meeting they called our agreement with Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, [the producer of the SSJ], ‘minuscule’,” he added. Nevertheless, Filev insists that the Russian airline industry truly needs an aircraft with 75-seat capacity. He points out that giving airlines the wrong-sized aircraft will result in a situation where the air transport industry will stop generating revenues and contribute to country’s GDP – and will instead turn into a “leech, sucking money” from the federal budget. “The ministry’s reluctance to listen to the airlines will lead to catastrophic consequences,” Filev warns. He criticises the Russian aerospace manufacturing industry as being deficient and loss making and points to “some operators of the SSJ100 which are taking up to 60 per cent of their income from state cash injections.” S7 Airlines is Russia’s largest private airline, and the second biggest after state-owned flag carrier Aeroflot. Filev also recalls that his airline is the indisputable leader in direct regional air travel outside Moscow and St Petersburg. It operates a fleet of 84 Airbus and Boeing narrow-bodies and 17 Embraer E-170 regional jets with a seating capacity for up to 78 passengers. The SSJ100 is the first commercial airliner developed from scratch in modern Russia. Its manufacturer, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC) has delivered 183 aircraft in the 2011-to-2018 timeframe. In a single-class configuration the aircraft seats up to 105 passengers. S7 Group signed a letter of intent for 75 Superjet 75s in April 2018, with the first deliveries expected to begin in 2022. “They’ve been bending and twisting [state-controlled] Aeroflot [to order 100 more SSJ100s], whilst we are a commercial customer. In 2017 we started operating Embraers and we [deliberately] limited the leasing term to five years to [eventually] replace them with locally-built aircraft when they were brought to the market,” Filev argues. Aeroflot is the largest operator of the SSJ100, with 49 in its fleet (one was written off after a hard landing at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow on May 5 claiming 41 lives) and has a preliminary order for a further 100 of the type. The state incentive programme for developing the aerospace industry has the provision for injecting some 50 billion roubles into the SSJ75 this year. This past summer, SCAC’s parent United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) said the project was temporarily halted, as the priority in the SSJ programme development is now in the replacement of foreign-made components with locally made alternatives for the existing version. Filev suspects that the actual reason for abandoning the project is the airline’s requirement to include its own experts on the board of the SSJ75 flight testing programme to ensure its conformity with airworthiness standards. It also put forward the demand to redesign the wheel wells and replace the composite section of the passenger cabin floor after the SSJ100 crash proved that the composite was unable to withstand the 240 degrees C heat that, according to international safety standards, it should, he explains. By contrast, several industry professionals have earlier expressed the certainty that S7’s order was merely a demonstrative posture for the government, and that the airline in fact had no need for such aircraft. “Throughout its history S7 has not once reduced itself to bluff,” Filev counters. ”Everything we did was for real and we were equally serious about the 75-seater aircraft project. For its domestic market, Russia needs precisely a 75-seat aircraft, something similar to the Soviet Tupolev Tu-134 regional jet [now no longer in operation]. The SSJ75 could have become the replacement for this aircraft. Besides, the SSJ was initially designed with 75 seats and that’s the configuration we ordered back in 2004. But later it was stretched into a 100-seater,” Filev recalls. He is also confident that shrinking the aircraft to its original size would actually solve some problems – in particular, the engines were designed for a lower aircraft weight, so with adequate loads would suffer fewer malfunctions. The same is true for the wing. The SSJ75 could become an efficient airliner, and win over many regional carriers, Filev concludes. “S7 Airlines has never asked for any special privileges from the government, so there must have been some business logic behind their order,” reasons Boris Rybak, general director of Infomost Consulting. “The shortened Superjet would have lower operational costs and it would offer a decent range and some Russian regional routes are quite extended. It could also offer better economy on those flights where 100-seat aircraft could be under loaded. But it’s unlikely that the lower weight would help solve the engine issues,” he says.

Airbus A220-300 to be certified in Russia by the end 2019

пт, 30/08/2019 - 00:00
The Airbus A220 passenger jet, which was originally the Bombardier CSeries, is likely to be certified in Russia before the end of this year. “We continue to work with the Russian aviation authorities, which are providing us with full support on certification issues and intend to certify the aircraft before the end of 2019,” Julien Franiatte, the head of Airbus in Russia told ATO.ru, Russian Aviation Insider’s sister publication, at the on-going MAKS-2019 air show in Russia. Previously it was expected that the smallest member of the Airbus aircraft family would achieve permission to operate from Russia’s aviation authority Rosaviatsiya in the middle of this year. Airbus insists that it is not worth talking about the delay of the A220’s entry into the Russian market as work on obtaining certification is in the timeframe set earlier. The first to be certified is the -300 variant, formerly the CS300 model. The manufacturer notes that it sees the possibilities for selling the A220 family aircraft in the Russian market and is already in talks with a number of Russian carriers. The Airbus aircraft portfolio lists two Russian, state-controlled leasing companies – the Ilyushin Finance Co (IFC) and State Transport Leasing Company (abbreviated to GTLK in Russian) – as customers for a total of 20 of the A220-300 jets. The original deal for 32 CS300s, with options for 10 more, was struck in 2013 by the then privately owned IFC. However, in the summer of 2016, the Moscow-based lessor restructured the agreement by reducing the firm order to 20 CS300s (A220-300s), plus one Q400 turboprop. An option for five Q400s has also since been added to the deal. The six CS300s, which were initially part of IFC’s portfolio, were later ceded to GTLK. In the deal, Iyushin Finance formally keeps the remaining 14 aircraft of the type. The question remains: who will become the A220 start-up operator in Russia? In March of this year, Red Wings, Russia’s only potential airline customer for the Airbus A220-300, abandoned its previous plans to lease six of them from GTLK, citing an unexpectedly amended contract price by the lessor. At the time of publication of that news, GTLK had not responded to questions about the possible delivery dates or the availability of an alternative lessee for the aircraft. According to the latest Airbus annual forecast, which was featured at the MAKS 2019 event earlier this week, demand for the so called ‘small segment’ – typically covering the sector in which most of today’s single-aisle aircraft compete – there will be a requirement for 998 new passenger aircraft in Russia and the CIS in the upcoming 20 years.

Airbus A220-300 to be certified in Russia by the end 2019

пт, 30/08/2019 - 00:00
The Airbus A220 passenger jet, which was originally the Bombardier CSeries, is likely to be certified in Russia before the end of this year. “We continue to work with the Russian aviation authorities, which are providing us with full support on certification issues and intend to certify the aircraft before the end of 2019,” Julien Franiatte, the head of Airbus in Russia told ATO.ru, Russian Aviation Insider’s sister publication, at the on-going MAKS-2019 air show in Russia. Previously it was expected that the smallest member of the Airbus aircraft family would achieve permission to operate from Russia’s aviation authority Rosaviatsiya in the middle of this year. Airbus insists that it is not worth talking about the delay of the A220’s entry into the Russian market as work on obtaining certification is in the timeframe set earlier. The first to be certified is the -300 variant, formerly the CS300 model. The manufacturer notes that it sees the possibilities for selling the A220 family aircraft in the Russian market and is already in talks with a number of Russian carriers. The Airbus aircraft portfolio lists two Russian, state-controlled leasing companies – the Ilyushin Finance Co (IFC) and State Transport Leasing Company (abbreviated to GTLK in Russian) – as customers for a total of 20 of the A220-300 jets. The original deal for 32 CS300s, with options for 10 more, was struck in 2013 by the then privately owned IFC. However, in the summer of 2016, the Moscow-based lessor restructured the agreement by reducing the firm order to 20 CS300s (A220-300s), plus one Q400 turboprop. An option for five Q400s has also since been added to the deal. The six CS300s, which were initially part of IFC’s portfolio, were later ceded to GTLK. In the deal, Iyushin Finance formally keeps the remaining 14 aircraft of the type. The question remains: who will become the A220 start-up operator in Russia? In March of this year, Red Wings, Russia’s only potential airline customer for the Airbus A220-300, abandoned its previous plans to lease six of them from GTLK, citing an unexpectedly amended contract price by the lessor. At the time of publication of that news, GTLK had not responded to questions about the possible delivery dates or the availability of an alternative lessee for the aircraft. According to the latest Airbus annual forecast, which was featured at the MAKS 2019 event earlier this week, demand for the so called ‘small segment’ – typically covering the sector in which most of today’s single-aisle aircraft compete – there will be a requirement for 998 new passenger aircraft in Russia and the CIS in the upcoming 20 years.

MC-21 adds a further 20 potential ‘soft orders’ to its sales portfolio

пт, 30/08/2019 - 00:00
The public premiere at the Moscow MAKS-2019 air show has revealed that the new Russian-made MC-21 narrow-body airliner has increased its portfolio of sales options by 20 aircraft. According to Ravil Khakimov, the recently appointed general director of Irkut Corporation, the developer of the Russian aircraft, the company has now signed agreements of intent for five aircraft with Russian regional airline Yakutia, 10 with Kazakhstan carrier Bek Air and five more for an undisclosed customer. The MC-21 portfolio of firm orders remains unchanged at 175 aircraft. At Zhukovsky, three experimental aircraft of the MC-21-300 basic version are currently involved in certification tests. The head of Irkut has confirmed that it is planned to complete these tests and obtain a type certificate at the end of 2020. Deliveries should begin in the second half of 2021. The first MC-21 is due to be delivered to the country’s flag carrier Aeroflot, which has already committed to 50 of the new aircraft (to be leased through Avia Capital Services). Furthermore, it is expected that, before the first quarter of 2021, the Russian national carrier will also convert its preliminary agreement for the purchase of another 35 aircraft into firm contracts, Khakimov has promised. A basic type certificate will initially be issued to the MC-21-300 – powered by the US-made PW1400G engines. Separately, in April of this year, Irkut submitted an application for certification for the aircraft powered by Russian PD-14 engines, adds Konstantin Popovich, chief designer of the project. The Russian powerplants will be installed on the fifth prototype, which is to begin flights next year. The certification for such a modification of the MC-21 is expected in 2021. Irkut has also applied for a supplemental type certificate for a variant with a composite wing made entirely of Russian materials, the need for which arose as a result of the US-imposed sanctions on the supply of composite raw materials to Russian specialist companies Aerocomposite and ONPP Technologiya, which have produced composite wings for the MC-21 model. The search for suitable substitute Russian raw materials for the wings held up the certification of the aircraft for a minimum of six months.

Interview: Randy Tinseth, marketing vice president for Boeing

ср, 28/08/2019 - 00:00
The 2019 posed new challenges for The Boeing Company. On the eve of the MAKS-2019 air show in Russia, Randy Tinseth, marketing vice president for Boeing, told ATO Show Observer (Russian Aviation Insider’s sister publication) about compensations to 737 MAX operators, prospects for the Russian and Central Asia market and new potential competitors of Boeing and Airbus in the future. Mr Tinseth, Boeing forecasts that in the nearest 20 years airlines in the region will need 1,280 new airplanes valued at US$160 billion, as well as services valued at US$270 billion. Based on your assessment please specify which aircraft types will carriers in Russia and Central Asia require, narrow-body or wide-body? At Boeing, we split the market into four different jet aircraft segments. Our forecast for 1,280 aircraft includes regional jets with 30-90 seats, single-aisle airplanes like the 737 MAX for more than 90 passengers. Also we have a third segment for wide body aircraft. And finally we have a market segment for new production freighters. So, as we look at Russia and Central Asia market, we find a market that will be dominated by single-aisle planes like the 737 MAX or A320 that will account for about 70% of all deliveries over the next twenty years. Next to that will be the market for wide bodies. If we talk about Russian market specifically, what kind of airplanes you see here in the nearest 20 years? If you take a look at the Russian market specifically, it accounts for 80% of the total forecast for the Russia and Central Asia region. In this market we actually see a substantial demand for regional jets. A lot of that is because of the Sukhoi Superjet aircraft fitting in that regional jet marketplace. When you look at the distance and you look at the destinations in Russia you see that the regional jet market makes sense in that marketplace and there is a very good airplane SSJ that has been successful in that segment. How are things going with your services business? We’ve seen very robust global growth in our services. The growth has exceeded the industry average of 3.5% as our growth in 2018 amounted to 17%. Positive dynamics is expected throughout our portfolio, which includes products and services in the field of supply chain (production and distribution of components), engineering, modifications and maintenance, digital aviation and analytics, as well as training and consulting. In Russia and Central Asia countries we offer the same services portfolio to the region airlines which is available worldwide. Countries of Russia and Central Asia region are very diverse from the point of view of political and economic processes. How will you diversify your approach to each of these countries? Or there are no differences among Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Russia, that would affect sales of your products? I've worked in sales and marketing for a very long time. Airplane sales really begin with the customer. At Boeing, we focus on understanding the customer’s needs and solving their problems. Every customer is different. Their needs vary and depend on what their business model is and who is making the purchasing decisions, among other factors. We see this across Russia and Central Asia region. And then each country is different  — every company have different needs , requirements and problems they are trying to solve — so you have to make sure that you understand who is in that country or around the country will also be part of the decision or part of the authority to make sure they can go forward. So first and foremost you have to work with the customer to identify a solution and work with the regulatory and government agencies. Let’s concentrate on Russia. Why Boeing, unlike Airbus, for a long time has not presented its airplanes at MAKS air show? What has to happen to make Boeing display its aircraft in Zhukovsky again? Or do you reject this opportunity because presence of Boeing aircraft at MAKS air show jeopardizes their sales in the region? We usually bring an airplane when we have a new airplane model or when we have an airplane on tour. Unfortunately, for one reason or another we haven't been able to do that at MAKS. This is an incredibly important show for us because this is an important market. This year, we have more executives at the show to support our customers and show our support of the industry. You might say Airbus does one approach at MAKS, we do a different approach. But I don't think there's any question to the importance of this market, the investments we're making in this market, I think that we're probably second to none. There's always a possibility to bring a new Boeing airplane to the Air Show in the future. Understood. We all know that politics and aviation are inseparable. What is the outlook for your single-aisle airplanes in Russia after launch of MC-21 on the market? If you look at our global market, we project operators will demand about 32,000 single-aisle aircraft over the next 20 years. It’s a very big marketplace, where Airbus and Boeing play an important role. It's also a potential market for the MC-21 and the Chinese C919. When I look at that market, I see room for us and for Airbus to grow. There's probably room for one or two new competitors to be successful in that market in the future. I don't know who that will be. At the end of the day it's going to be up to customers to make their choice. In perspective, we have to compete for every sale and every customer. So, could MC-21 become a competitor for your products? We have to focus on our business not the competition. Again, I could see one or two new competitors in the single-aisle market becoming successful. Those competitors have to have the right strategy to deliver a great airplane and reliable service and support. I think any new manufacturer has to make sure they’ve got the right airplane, build it at the right rate, have the right cost structure, and if they can do it, they are going to be successful. Let’s talk a bit about numbers. What is an average age of Boeing aircraft operated today by Russian carriers? How has it changed over the 26-year history of Boeing aircraft operation by Russian airlines and what is going to happen in future? Where is Russia now in terms of this number comparing to other countries that operate Boeing airplanes? In 1993, the average age of Boeing aircraft operating in Russia was 15.5 years. Over the past 26 years, we have been seeing the Boeing fleet gradually becoming younger and approaching the world average of 11.8 years. Given the tendency to rejuvenate the fleet, there is a high probability that within five years the aircraft fleet in the region will become younger than the global average. Do you see a place for freighters on the Russian market and why? We do see a solid marketplace for freighters — in general we see a demand for about 50 aircraft of this type over the next twenty years for Russia and Central Asia. A lot of that freighter capacity will be required for companies like Volga-Dnepr and other cargo carriers helping to do an internal trade within Russia and Central Asia as well as to and from other countries worldwide. When you mention cargo aircraft, you mean wide-bodies. The volumes you have announced for the production of 50 aircraft in the next two decades are more likely to indicate a recession in the cargo aircraft market or not? It is the smallest market units, it’s about freighter aircraft over the next twenty years, but it is rather substantial in terms of the value. If you think about it freighter aircraft tend to be big freighters like 747, like 777 freighters, like 767 freighters - those are wide bodies at all come with a fairly hefty price tag, so there's a lot of value I catch to those. Boeing have virtually a 100% market share in the freighter market or close to a 100% market share. Demand for extra-large aircraft such as 747 and A380 continues to be low. As the result, this year Airbus decided to close the production of A380 in the nearest few years after delivering all unfilled orders. Does the market for a cargo version supports a program? What are your expectations of the extra-large passenger aircraft — is the era of that type is over? That's a great question. I think when we look at the 747, its future is in the freighter market there's no question about that. And you know we have freighters in our production line that take us into the next decade, so I think we're in a good place in terms of the 747. As a passenger the future will really be around our 777 program. The 777 is a plane that is smaller than the 747 and A380 but has a twin-engine and wing design that is significantly more efficient. Moreover it has a lower cost than those bigger four-engine airplanes. In my mind, the 777 family is really going to be the replacement of the A380 and 747 in the future, so twin-engine airplanes have really taken over that market from the four engine airplanes like the A380 and that's why the A380 even relatively early in its production cycle will be going away. In other words, the future for the Russian market, in your opinion, is up to ... We done well with the 737 NG and the 737 MAX so those airplanes have become the main stay at a number of airlines. Over the longer term, there are opportunities throughout the region for both the 737, 787, and 777. Earlier you said that you consider the quantity of deliveries to be a true measure of success in the aviation market. We all understand what are reasons for this, but according to forecasts this year, Boeing is losing to Airbus. In the 1H of 2019 the corporation reduced deliveries of aircraft by 37%. What are the expectations in this regard? Take a look: we've split the single aisle market with Airbus over the last several years about 50/50 on a global basis in terms of deliveries. Furthermore, our wide-bodies have done extraordinarily well both in terms of orders and deliveries — approaching about 65% share over the last 5,5 years. And what about the future of 737 aircraft, you closed NG program and what will happen next? Yes, we are phasing out the Next-Generation 737. We have a handful of aircraft to deliver, but essentially our production today is really focused on the 737 MAX. In conclusion, I have to ask you about Boeing 737MAX. How are you going to regain trust of airlines to Boeing 737 MAX in the region? It's the most important question we have to answer. As you can imagine, this has been a difficult situation. We are very sorry for the loss of life in these two accidents. And we know that it has been a very difficult time for our customers because they have had to ground their airplanes and they can't take delivery of new ones during the busy summer season. For now, we are working as hard as we can to get the airplane safely back into service. We're working closely with the regulatory authorities to make sure that we do all right things to safely return the plane to service and we believe that would be able to do so in the IV quarter of 2019. Will Boeing compensate airlines their losses incurred due to non-delivery of Boeing 737MAX on time? We're working with all of our customers to mitigate the impact from the MAX grounding and resuming airplane deliveries. Compensation can take many forms. It can be money or services that will bring them value. It will be looking at anything that we can bring value to our customers in a way that helps them out and is truly a win for both of us. So we're really focused on mitigating the impact and supporting our customers in a variety of forms.  Interview by Victoria Zhadanova

Russia’s Rostec’s unit is in possession of a firm order for 35 Boeing 737 MAXs

ср, 28/08/2019 - 00:00
Avia Capital Services, the leasing arm of Russian industrial conglomerate Rostec which, amongst others, controls UAC, the producer of the MC-21 and Superjet 100 aircraft types, is in possession of a firm order for 35 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets. These details surfaced this week when the UK’s Financial Times reported that Russian lessor Avia Capital Services, a 100 per cent subsidiary of Rostec, had filed a lawsuit in the USA to cancel its order for 35 Boeing MAX 8s. In a comment to Russian media, Avia Capital Services revealed that the first delivery of the aircraft was originally scheduled for October 2019, but the date was moved back to March 2022 when Boeing 737 MAXs were grounded worldwide in March, following crashes of the type in Indonesia in October 2018 and, just four months later, in Ethiopia. On signing the deal, the Rostec division had paid the American aircraft manufacturer a cash deposit believed to be in the region of US$35 million. The leasing company is now demanding that the deposit be returned with interest, plus $75 million in lost profits, as well as an undisclosed sum in compensatory damages. Avia Capital Services has, however, indicated its willingness to reach an out-of-court settlement. The B737 MAXs were earmarked for a number of Russian airline clients, the company has revealed. This is not the first experience for Avia Capital Services involving American-built narrow-bodies. In 2009, armed with a lease agreement from Aeroflot for 50 aircraft, it signed a sale and purchase agreement for 50 Boeing 737-800s and options for an additional 35 narrowbody aircraft. To date, of that number, 47 aircraft have been delivered to Russia’s dominant carrier. Avia Capital Services was previously involved in a deal for 22 Boeing 787s, which were also initially intended for national flag carrier Aeroflot. The airline eventually relinquished the purchase option to the lessor, which then hoped to find new customers for the aircraft by October 2017 but failed to do so. Boeing did not penalise the company for breaching that contract, Sergey Chemezov, head of Rostec, said at the time.

Russia’s Azimuth Airlines reaffirms its faith in the Superjet

ср, 28/08/2019 - 00:00
Russia’s Azimuth Airlines has agreed to lease two more Superjet 100 (SSJ100) regional jets from the State Transport Leasing Company (GTLK), in the first deal regarding the type since the tragic crash of an SSJ100 at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport in May of this year. Azimuth, which is the only airline in the world whose fleet is made up exclusively of the Russian regional jets, has once again pinned its faith in the Superjet 100 by signing 12-year term operating lease agreements with GTLK, Russia’s largest lessor, for two of the type. The contract was inked at the on-going Zhukovsky, near Moscow, MAKS-2019 air show. The first of the two contracted SSJ100s is expected to be delivered to the airline in October of this year and will begin scheduled flights in the carrier’s regional route network in November. Delivery of the other aircraft is planned "for a later period," the airline says. Upon completion of this latest transaction, the Azimuth fleet will increase to 11 Superjet 100s. The previous deal – for its ninth SSJ100 – was executed in April 2019, and all of Azimuth’s aircraft are on lease from GTLK. The young carrier’s leadership has set an ambitious goal to almost double the number of passengers it will carry this year – up to 1.2 million. So far, so good, as Azimuth has already served some 666,000 passengers in the first seven months of this year, a 112 per cent improvement on the same period in 2018. Established in 2017, and currently ranked 17th in the air passenger league table of Russian airlines, Azimuth Airlines is a carrier located in the south of Russia, based at the airports of Platov (Rostov-on-Don) and Pashkovsky (Krasnodar). Previously, in an interview with ATO.ru, Russian Aviation Insider’s sister publication, Azimuth’s executive director noted that by the end of this year the carrier will be in a position to break even.

Russia’s Laros Design Bureau creates an aerobatic aircraft based on the Su-31

вт, 27/08/2019 - 00:00
The Moscow-based Laros Design Bureau is developing a new aerobatic aircraft that meets high international standards. The designers have used the base of the best sports aircraft of the Soviet era – the Su-26, Su-29 and Su-31 types – all of which were produced by manufacturer Sukhoi between 1984 and 1997. “The idea of upgrading these planes is not accidental,” Oleg Larionov, founder of Laros Design Bureau, told Show Observer, Russian Aviation Insider’s sister publication. “Since 1984, the Russian national aerobatic team has been competing with the Sukhoi aircraft, and more than 60 per cent of the sets of medals at world and Europe competitions aerobatics were won on the Su-26 and Su-31 by both Russian and foreign pilots. The aircraft are recognised as the best in the world, have unique design features in structural design and aerodynamics, a standard ejection seat system and can be operated and designed to withstand up to +12/-10 G. This is one of the most successful Russian developments, so we have used it as the base for the new aircraft. Our replacement of obsolete materials and technologies with modern ones has significantly improved flight performance – for example, we have completely changed the airfoil and the shape of the wing and the fuselage has been modified as well." The Laros Design Bureau has been working on the new sports aircraft project for three years, along with Sukhoi and Siberian Aviation Scientific Research Institute (SibNIA) that provided technical support at the design stage. Serial production of the new aircraft is scheduled for 2020. According to Larionov, the annual global market demand is 30 aircraft – on average the number of aircraft sold per year by Germany’s Extra Aircraft, the only company to serially produce such sports aircraft today. The preliminary cost of the Laros aircraft is estimated at €350,000 (some 25.5 million roubles). A modernised Su-31-based test-bed, fitted with a new wing, is being presented at MAKS 2019. Incidentally, it is not the only Laros Design Bureau development in the pipeline. Since 2010, the company has been producing light aircraft for small and sporting aviators, powered hang gliders and gliders etc. In addition, in 2018, the Design Bureau launched a promising development to create a re-usable space transport as part of the effective advancement of the Russian aerospace industry.

Interview: Julien Franiatte, head of Airbus Russia

вт, 27/08/2019 - 00:00
Russian airlines have been operating Airbus aircraft for more than 25 years now. In the early 1990s, the European consortium entered the Russian market with its A310 and, today, the country’s largest airline is preparing to introduce the brand new A350 into its fleet. Shortly ahead of the MAKS-2019 event, ATO Show Observer’s (Russian Aviation Insider’s sister publication) correspondent met with Julien Franiatte, head of Airbus Russia, to discuss amongst other things, the importance of the air show, Aeroflot’s preparations for the A350 and the future needs for aircraft in the Russian market. What will Airbus demonstrate at the Moscow Aerospace Show (MAKS) 2019 and why? This year we’ll have a nice stand where we’ll be exhibiting not only our product portfolio, but also Airbus’ activities in Russia, focusing a lot on the industrial cooperation in the space segment via our JV Synertech and in the commercial aircraft segment via our engineering centre and our cooperation with suppliers. In addition, as we’ve been doing at every MAKS since 2011, we’re bringing our flight test aircraft. This year it will be the A350-900, with registration number MSN002. We’re very glad to bring the A350 to MAKS again, especially as it’s fitted with some elements of our latest innovation, Airbus Connected Experience, which we unveiled at Hamburg Interiors Expo in April of this year. It is a part of numerous innovation projects Airbus is currently exploring. As you know, we’re not innovating just to be innovative, we’re innovating where it really matters. Airbus Connected Experience is a kind of an IoT [Internet of Things] concept platform to test various cabin innovations like smart galleys, trolleys, seats, overhead bins and other cabin elements. The crew will be able to access this data and exchange it, the airline will be able to store it and analyse it for predictive purposes, while passengers will be able to receive a more personalised experience. For example, this technology can show the cabin crew the exact location of a can of coca-cola in the galley, or the amount of food items left, etc. The main goal of all of these innovations we are implementing inside an aircraft is to reduce costs, to boost efficiency, to enhance interaction between the cabin crew and the passenger, thereby increasing passenger satisfaction. The equipment installed aboard MSN002 makes it a kind of Airbus innovations demonstrator used to test the future prospects of various digital cabin technologies available today. This is quite unique, because it’s the first time that some elements of Airbus Connected Experience have been fitted on an aircraft and we’re bringing this aircraft to MAKS. So, you’ll be bringing only the A350? The A350-900 yes, but it’s already a big deal. This year the A350-900 will be on the static and flight displays until the 31st of August, meaning that we will demonstrate it not only on the business days, but also during the two public days. How important is MAKS when compared to other air shows? Do you think that MAKS has been losing importance lately? I don’t compare MAKS to Farnborough or Le Bourget. I think MAKS has and always has had a special flavour – a unique DNA that you don’t have at other air shows. I think it comes from the legacy of the great aeronautic and aerospace industry that Russia has. I mean, when you go to the MAKS air show, it’s not only about current exhibitors, you can also see the planes from the Soviet Union and the current era that are displayed, and it’s fantastic! Furthermore, MAKS is unbeaten by any air show when it comes to flying displays. And when you look at the exhibitors there, they are different. They are more regional and the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have more chance to be presented. MAKS has always been an air show on its own. So I would not compare it to Le Bourget or Farnborough, which are more commercial for us. MAKS is more of an opportunity to get in touch with the airlines, industry partners and to demonstrate our industrial co-operation in Russia. That’s basically why we are bringing the A350. Next year Aeroflot will start operating this aircraft. Also, this aircraft has quite a few components made and manufactured in Russia. Airbus ECAR engineering centre has been very much involved in the design of the A350, with more than 6,000 technical drawings provided by the team, including two patents. Then, on the titanium side, VSMPO-Avisma covers about 50 per cent of Airbus’ needs in titanium (all modern aircraft use quite a lot of titanium). The A350 is 14 per cent titanium, for example. We also have the Liebherr and Hydromash companies that are producing parts for the landing gear of the A350. [caption id="attachment_18059" align="alignnone" width="660"] Airbus A350 aircraft (Airbus)[/caption] It’s now widely believed that the Russian civil aircraft industry is unlikely to become a major player in the market. Do you agree with that view? No, I would not be that critical. Russia already has a great history of aviation. You’ve demonstrated to have fantastic engineers and this is the key for the industry. I don’t think that 50 years ago, when there was this big duopoly of Boeing and McDonnel Douglas, that many people were actually betting that Airbus would become what it became. For instance, take the A320 – in the beginning the business case was to sell 600 airplanes – and today we’ve sold in excess of 14,700 units of the A320 family. I think we have to see how things will evolve. Yes, there’s a strong duopoly between Airbus and Boeing, but we always said that we welcome competition, and we strongly believe that the duopoly will not last – I mean, we broke it in the past. We now see the emergence of manufacturers worldwide, whether it’s from Russia or China. So the game is not over. It’s too soon to say that Russia will not become an important player. Last year you said that Airbus now accounts for 50 per cent of all foreign-made +100-seat aircraft in Russia and your goal is to increase this share to 55 per cent. When will that happen and what will contribute to that? We believe that there’s a sound position between 45 and 55 per cent which is where Airbus and Boeing would like to be positioned. Of course, we have ambitions in Russia and I believe we have the best products, so we can be on the higher end of the figures I just mentioned. We now have around 340 aircraft flying in Russia with nine airlines. Also, we’re now in talks with many [other] airlines which are interested in expanding or joining the Airbus family, so I’m confident that in a few years’ time we’ll get to the 55 per cent market share. What are the three key differences between Russian aviation and other markets? I don’t know if I can reduce it to three. Firstly, I would say that you have an incredibly resilient market. That’s one of your biggest strengths. I mean, if you look back, the air transport market has had to face the closure of Ukraine, the closure and partial opening of Turkey and Egypt – all of which were among the top destinations when it comes to leisure traffic for instance. There was, as we know, the economic downturn. There was the rouble devaluation. If you put all these things together, it’s close to the perfect storm. And yet, when you look at the numbers, they’re growing again. Of course, the market has completely changed. It went from well-balanced international-domestic to be mostly domestic at this moment. But the domestic traffic grew by 10 per cent I believe last year and the growth continues. That’s rather unique. I don’t know of many markets [in the world] that went through such a change in such a short space of time. Secondly, you have to deal with the strong challenges when you look at the country itself. I mean, Russia is the ninth largest country by population and the largest in terms of geographical size. There are nine time zones and the climate is down to below -50 [degrees C] in some parts of the country in winter, and it gets more than +30 [degrees C] in the summer. So this environment is quite harsh for aircraft operations. And finally the population is unevenly distributed, with three-quarters located in one-third west of Ural. In this situation of course you have a major hub, but you also create a desire to travel and discover the rest of the country. And this is where Airbus has an ideal product, the A321XLR, the newest of the A321 family. This plane is going to be a game-changer for Russia, because it will allow airlines to operate very long routes with a relatively small model. Today, between Moscow and Vladivostok, you have to operate a wide-body, but with the A321XLR you can fly from Kaliningrad to Vladivostok with a smaller option of 180-200 passengers. So that development would be a route-opener. According to Airbus forecasts, over the next 20 years, Russia and the CIS will need approximately more than 1,200 aircraft. What is your forecast about the Russian market alone? Firstly, I would like to highlight that, from last year, we changed our approach to our forecasts. Now we look not only at the size, but also the range, for this illustrates more accurately the current changes in the aviation market. For example, we see now that SA [single-aisle] aircraft are used on the same routes as WB [wide-body], such as the A321LR, which can fly from Moscow to Vladivostok, or the A330 which is now used on shorter routes, where the SA used to be operated (Moscow-Irkutsk). So, if we look at the Russia and CIS [together] market from that perspective, we can see a demand for more than 1,200 aircraft in 20 years: 998 smaller, 140 medium, 39 large and 44 extra-large aircraft. For Russia only, I would say that represents somewhere between 900 and 1,000 aircraft, with the prevailing majority being SA aircraft. And how many wide-body aircraft will Russia and the CIS need in the next 20 years? We estimate this to be around 200 aircraft in the A330 and A350 category. What is the average fleet age of the Airbus aircraft operated by Russian airlines? If I’m not mistaken, it’s on the high end of nine years. If we compare ourselves to our competitor Boeing, we’re about two years younger. Over the course of our presence in Russia, we have always had the youngest fleet versus the competition, and this is something of which we’re proud. How have things changed during the 27-year history of the presence of Airbus aircraft in the fleet of Russian airlines? What do you think will happen in the future? How will it change? We have had several waves. We entered the market first with the A310 to Aeroflot in the early 1990s. Then we really made a breakthrough again with Aeroflot in 2003 when the first A320s were delivered and, of course, when you deliver new airplanes, the fleet age instantly drops. Then we had a series of airlines joining the game from 2003 to 2010: Aeroflot got Airbuses, as well as S7 Airlines and Ural Airlines. So we had this first wave of current engine option aircraft coming to the country and therefore bringing down the age of the fleet. Now we’re expecting the second wave, which was initiated two years ago at MAKS-2017, when S7 Airlines took delivery of the first A320neo in Russia. Now we have this new wave of neos and Ural Airlines has recently added the first A320neo to its fleet. Aeroflot has also announced plans to have the neo. We’re going to see that the average age will drop again. Talking about Ural Airlines, which received the first A320neo, what has been done on your part to ensure that the customer is sufficiently familiarised and prepared for the new type? Ural Airlines took delivery of their first A320neo on the 6th of August, becoming the first CFM International [LEAP-1А]-powered A320neo operator in Russia. The commonality between the neo and the ceo is close to 95 per cent. It’s basically just the engines that change. If you take one of the last ceos to come off the production line and compare it with the neo, the difference is really less than five per cent. So the mechanics are already well trained on 95 per cent of the airplane. The remaining five per cent is the engine. As you know, Ural Airlines has extensive experience in A320 family operations and maintenance. But, of course, all the necessary training schemes for the neo were put in place and the respective technical and flight documentation was provided to make the new type’s entry into service as seamless as possible. As usual we’re sending what we call the ‘field representative’, which is the Airbus employee that will be physically located inside Ural Airlines’ facility and will be there to answer any questions the airline might have. But again, the A320neo is a well-known machine, so we’re not expecting any surprises there. How are you helping Aeroflot prepare for the A350? Let’s say that we initiated the preparation when we welcomed the A350 at Sheremetyevo [Aeroflot’s Moscow base airport] in August 2014. It was quite unique because I believe it was the first time that a western-built, non-certified aircraft had landed on Russian soil. Right there you can say that we started checking the [mutual] compatibility of the A350 and Sheremetyevo. Of course, 24 months prior to the actual entry into service next year we had a team from Toulouse working closely with Aeroflot to ensure that the start of operations will be smooth, and this work continues. Meanwhile, here is a gentle reminder that the A350 has a common type rating with the A330s, which Aeroflot has been successfully operating for more than 10 years, plus today we have some 270 A350-900s flying, so it’s an airplane that’s well known by Airbus and it’s also well-known in many places that Aeroflot will be flying to. So again, here everything has been done to minimise any risk and we don’t foresee any challenges. Airbus also announced that the A220 will receive its Russian type certificate in 2019. When exactly will that happen and why do you think the aircraft still has no commitment from Russian airlines? It’s not that no airline has committed. There was a commitment from Red Wings, but it did not work out. We see the market for the A220 in Russia. We’re working closely with Russian civil aviation authorities to certify the A220, as we understand it’s on track and it’s to be achieved by the end of this year. Now let’s talk about customer support. How do you develop your customer support programmes? What news can airlines expect in this area in the next four years? Customer support, like the rest of the company, is benefiting from digitalisation. I will not go into fine detail, because we talked a little bit about it when we discussed the Connected Cabin, but I will give you just two examples. One is what we call Skywise, a digital platform which enables to record, share and analyse a large amount of data. For example, the A350 generates close to 800 GB of data in one flight, and Skywise can help gather all this amount of information and detect, for example, what we call the micro-fault. This refers to the non-complete failure of a component whereby a micro-fault – that would not necessarily appear in the cockpit because the component hasn’t failed – is recognised as just a micro-fault. And that tremendously allows the airline to anticipate a failure. This is really the next step in the cost of aircraft maintenance. When you record a certain frequency of micro-faults in a valve, for example, you’re able to remove the valves before they actually fail. And this also allows you to send that valve for repair before it completely fails, so the subsequent cost of repair is much lower. We can even start to gather this big data during the birth of the aircraft in the factory, and then continue to gather all that information throughout its lifecycle. Therefore, airlines have a complete picture of their aircraft and they can anticipate and maintain them accordingly. And for an airline that is used to having second-hand aircraft, this tremendously reduces the cost because, together with the aircraft, you also receive all this information. The second one is drone technology to carry out the inspection of an aircraft. Today if you inspect an aircraft you do it on a crane, which is time-consuming and there is always a risk of damaging the plane. What we’ve developed is an automatic drone equipped with an HD camera and an Airbus’ aircraft inspection software analysis tool. This way the inspection lasts only three hours, including 30 minutes of image capture by the drone. So you go from one full day to only 3.5 hours and you completely avoid the risk of damaging the aircraft. And, again, the full report and HD images created by the drone and software can then be uploaded into Skywise, thus feeding the big data. What do you think about the Russian Customs import tariffs and VAT? Should the government change something in this area? Let me answer differently, we’re in an industry that needs stability and long-term planning. When airlines lease airplanes they lease them for six years minimum. And the standard for wide-bodies is 12 years. They need to be able to plan when it comes down to Customs duty, VAT, or anything on those scales. What do you think will happen with demand for your narrow-body aircraft in Russia after the MC-21 comes into service? We always welcome competition and we’re happy to see a third or a fourth player depending if you count the Chinese market. Again, when you look back 50 years ago, we managed to break a duopoly. It’s too early to see how it is going to happen in Russia, we see that there are quite a few commitments from Russian airlines for the MC-21 and it’s natural. We’re glad to see that there’s interest for the MC-21 because that means that there’s demand for such types of models, so maybe it’s an opportunity for Airbus and Boeing to re-think something. But if you look at our forecasted demand for some 1000 aircraft for Russia and the CIS in the next 20 years I think there’s room for everyone. What is the average daily utilisation rate of Airbus aircraft in Russia compared to in other countries? The daily utilisation rate in Russia is one of the highest if I’m not mistaken. It’s around 10 hours for single-aisles in Russia compared to nine worldwide. And for the A330 it’s close to 13 hours versus 11.7 worldwide. We regularly have Russian airlines that break records for the number of hours flown on single-aisles. Thus, we have three leaders in terms of daily utilisation in Russia: they are Rossiya Airlines, S7 Airlines and Ural Airlines. Sometimes they fly for 11-12 hours per day, which demonstrates that the airplane is capable of operating those flight-hours which is a sign that the airlines know what they’re doing. And also the more they operate the aircraft the less the unit cost. So that has a direct impact on a plane ticket for passengers.

Zhukovsky pays tribute to the venerable Tu-144 supersonic airliner

пн, 26/08/2019 - 00:00
A Tupolev Tu-144, the world’s first supersonic passenger aircraft, has started a new life, not in the sky, but on the ground, as a monument. A pedestal with the airliner has been installed at the entrance to Zhukovsky city (in the Moscow region) and was unveiled just before City Day on August 16, ahead of the start of the MAKS 2019 air show there. The aircraft, with tail number CCCP-77114 and its peer with tail number 77115, have regularly been displayed at the MAKS static display and the aircraft monument has been aptly located in front of the central entrance to the Gromov Flight Research Institute. The modified Tu-144D (77114), powered by RD-36-51A engines, was used in civil aviation between 1981 and 1990, setting three world records in the process. Between 1995 and 1999 it was used by NASA as a test-bed for the development of modern supersonic passenger aircraft research. The aircraft was reconfigured and equipped with NK-32-1 engines (which power the Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers). These changes increased the speed of the aircraft from mach 2.15 to 2.3. Following its decommission, the Tu-144 was stored at the Gromov Flight Research Institute. Meanwhile, the installation of another tribute to the Soviet supersonic passenger aircraft era – consisting of four more Tu-144 aircraft – is at Monino (Moscow region), Ulyanovsk, Kazan, and Germany’s Sinsheim, in a project supervised by the Avia Legends charity foundation which was created in 2015 to establish the National Aviation Museum at Zhukovsky. The foundation’s chairman Mikhail Agafonov told Show Observer, Russian Aviation Insider’s sister publication, that the first stage of the project has been implemented thanks to Yuri Prokhorov, the head of Zhukovsky city and Andrey Vorobyov, the governor of the Moscow region. The project has also found support from the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI), the Tupolev Design Bureau and the Research and Engineering Company, as well as (NIK) Zhukovsky International Airport Cargo, some industry veterans and enthusiastic aviators and some individual Russian residents. Furthermore, with the help of volunteers, the aircraft has been restored and painted in its original Soviet-era Aeroflot colours. The restoration and installation of the Tu-144 monument cost some 20 million roubles (US$315,000), but it is only at the first stage. In the future it is planned to create an interactive museum inside the aircraft, where part of the experimental equipment and cockpit with all flight controls have been preserved. The ultimate goal of the project is a museum complex, including an exhibition pavilion and a nicely maintained area around the aircraft.

Russian supersonics for VIP passengers

пн, 26/08/2019 - 00:00
Specialists at Russia’s Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) are continuing to work on a light supersonic business jet concept that will be cheaper to purchase than larger supersonic airliners. However this requires meeting the basic minimum environmental needs, such as reducing sonic boom, the TsAGI has revealed to Show Observer, Russian Aviation Insider’s sister publication. The advanced business jet will be able to fly at a speed of up to between 1.6-1.8M (1,700–1,900 km/h), with a flight range of 7,500–8,000 kilometres, enough for flights from Moscow to New York and from Moscow to Khabarovsk, in half as much time as conventional subsonic airliners. The volume of its sonic boom is calculated to be between 65–70 dBA, which corresponds to the general noise of a metropolis. According to TsAGI, the supersonic aircraft’s optimised configuration will reduce sonic boom and at the same time will increase fuel efficiency. The aircraft will have an unusual aerodynamic design with a V-wing and an optimally deformed median surface, as well as a powerplant located on the upper surface of the rear of the fuselage. Also, due to the specifics of supersonic flights related to higher jet stream velocities, special sound-attenuation systems and integration of the power plant into the airframe are being developed in order not to compromise other flight characteristics. In the event of success, these supersonic business jets may go into production at the turn of the 2030s. At the moment, everything depends on financing. In addition, there is no absolute clarity on the powerplant for this aircraft. And the most important question is: will there be sufficient demand for such an aircraft? TsAGI is working on such supersonic research with a long list of other specialist bodies including the Central Institute of Aviation Engine Construction (known by its Russian acronym TsIAM), the Gromov Flight Research Institute, the State Research Institute of Civil Aviation (GosNIIGA), as well as the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) and the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC). Part of the work is also being carried out in cooperation with the European Union in the framework of the international RUMBLE project, which is to determine threshold values and the rules of sonic boom evaluation. A full-scale model of the advanced supersonic business aircraft, a partial mock-up of its nose structural layout and a heat-and-noise insulating fuselage panel created by the institute’s specialists are on display at the TsAGI exposition at MAKS 2019. It is included in the joint stand of the Zhukovsky Institute National Research Centre.

Russian scientific research institute introduces a part-3D-printed, jet-powered UAV

пн, 26/08/2019 - 00:00
Visitors to this year’s MAKS air show will be able to see a VIAM (Russian Scientific Research Institute of Aviation materials) presentation of a prototype experimental twin-engine unmanned aerial jet vehicle (UAV), manufactured with the use of 3D printing technology. The research centre’s press service told Show Observer, Russian Aviation Insider’s sister publication, that composites and epoxy binders for the UAV’s airframe have been developed at the institute. The main feature of the UAV is its power plant, the MGTD-20, which is a small-sized gas turbine engine that has also been 3D-printed. VIAM and Russian Foundation for Advanced Research Projects, along with the Simonov Experimental Design Bureau, are currently jointly developing small-size gas turbine engines that produce up to 150 kg of thrust, using additive manufacturing technology. A prototype of the engine, weighing about one kg and producing 10 kg of thrust, was first presented at the MAKS 2017 event. Last spring, VIAM chief executive Evgeny Kablov said that endurance tests of a small-sized power plant with a thrust of 12 kg had been completed, and its flight tests would be carried out on a new jet UAV, also designed by the Institute in the summer. He added that VIAM was the first organisation in the Russian Federation to implement such a project involving a 3D-printed jet-powered UAV. The institute’s press service has not yet specified testing dates. In 2014, also for the first time in the Russian Federation, VIAM established the infrastructure for in-house additive manufacturing technology. Since then, more than 10 types of metal powder compositions for technologies of selective laser melting, selective electron beam melting and direct laser deposition have been developed. In addition, VIAM specialists have manufactured 3D-printed swirl vanes of the flame tube head for Russia’s all-new PD-14 engine to be used on MC-21 airliner. Today, all PD-14s are now equipped with these swirl vanes (more than 700 have been delivered). Additive technologies will also be used in the development of the PD-35 advanced super-thrust aircraft engine. At the MAKS 2019 VIAM stand, parts of the advanced aircraft engine – a vane, a choke tube, and a tangential vane swirler manufactured with the use of selective laser melting technology – will be on show.

Russia’s MC-21 aircraft to make its long-awaited public debut

ср, 21/08/2019 - 00:00
The wait is over. Russia’s new MC-21 narrow-body medium-haul aircraft is to be shown for the first time at the MAKS 2019 air show next week. The principal hope of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation – which is now under the management of Rostec – was first expected to make an appearance two years ago at the MAKS 2017 event at Zhukovsky, but the prototype of the family’s basic -300 variant, which made its maiden flight in Irkutsk on May 28, 2017, had not yet passed factory tests. Irkut Corporation, the type’s manufacturer, is to more than compensate for this delay by proffering not one, but three MC-21-300 test aircraft, including one fitted with a passenger cabin, which are expected to be demonstrated in both the aerial and static displays at MAKS 2019. The manufacturer has also announced that the MC-21 programme update press conference will be held on the opening day of the air show. The presentation of a factory-fresh, clean-sheet Russian-made aircraft has been awaited for an entire decade. The previous dream of the national aviation industry, the Superjet 100, made its debut at MAKS 2009, but has not since become “the world’s first regional super aircraft”. Visitors to the Paris Air Show, at Le Bourget, which celebrated its centenary in 2009, were the first to see the new Russian aircraft that had been created in collaboration with top aircraft companies of Europe and America. Those times are long gone. In July 2019, Denis Manturov, Russia’s minister of industry and trade, revealed to Reuters that the MC-21 could not have been created without its Superjet 100 predecessor. “We needed to develop [our] expertise in the civil aircraft industry, in new economic realities. Some US$2 billion was spent on the development of the Superjet 100. As for the MC-21, the entire programme hopes to produce almost 100 aircraft per year; with a total cost of some $4 billion.” Let's hope that UAC has effectively studied and accounted for the failures of the Superjet programme – and that the MC-21 will not end up as another flight of fancy.

Russia’s aircraft industry is endeavouring to preserve its key competences

пн, 19/08/2019 - 00:00
Despite the global spread of international isolation, Russia’s aircraft industry is endeavouring to preserve its key competences in the design, development and manufacture of up-to-date commercial aircraft programmes. These efforts – urged in a new wave of reforms across the industry – are aimed at further separating the commercial segment from the defence industry. At the forefront of this trend is Russia’s Superjet 100 (SSJ100) regional passenger jet, which remains United Aircraft Corporation’s only current completed commercial programme. According to UAC’s SSJ100 manufacturing subsidiary Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC), in 2018 it delivered 26 aircraft to customers, of which 22 were new and the remaining four remarketed. Such low delivery rates make UAC’s share of the global commercial aircraft market barely noticeable against the background of world’s largest producers Boeing (806 deliveries last year), Airbus (800), Embraer (90) and Bombardier (34). Second-tier producers of airframes with seating capacity above 19 seats include Canada’s Viking Air (10 deliveries in 2018), China’s COMAC (six), Czech Aircraft Industries (five) and Swiss RUAG (one). The increasing consolidation of the global aerospace industry, which was further provoked in 2018 by Bombardier leaving the passenger aircraft marketplace, has resulted in the strengthening of the existing duopoly between Airbus, which acquired Bombardier’s CSeries, and Boeing which, in turn, is in the process of taking control of Embraer’s E-Jet. With such a line-up of competitive forces any producer would find it extremely challenging to increase its foothold on the global landscape. Yet, Russia – as well as China – have not abandoned their attempts to develop new commercial aircraft types, at least for their own domestic markets. UAC’s product range development strategy has not formally changed during the past year. Along with its target of boosting sales of the SSJ100, the company’s main emphasis is on completing the development of the advanced MC-21 medium-haul narrow-body airliner and, in the more distant perspective, to also succeed with the joint Russo-Chinese wide-body programme dubbed CR929. However, a stiffening of western economic sanctions is forcibly transforming the first two programmes from the once popular format of wide international cooperation into smaller local projects. The same factor was behind the recent transformation at UAC. When the giant, state-run Rostec holding conglomerate took control of UAC it set the wheels in motion – bringing together the subsidiaries involved in commercial aircraft production, such as SCAC, Irkut and others, thereby creating a unified ‘civil aviation division.’ This division deliberately separates it from UAC’s defence business to preserve the opportunity of cooperation with western partners such as suppliers, customers and investors. Simultaneously, Rostec may decide to optimise the new division’s production structure, which may currently appear to be excessive for the existing commercial aircraft output. The MC-21 Although the consequences of western sanctions for international cooperation in aircraft production have been widely discussed in Russia for quite some time now, the symbolic point-of-no-return was passed in the autumn of 2018, when the sanctions reached Aerocomposite and Technologiya, two of UAC’s subsidiaries that manufacture composite aircraft parts, thereby cutting off access to western supplies of composite materials. The resultant need to find locally resourced substitutes for western composites pushed back the MC-21’s certification schedule by a further six months to the end of 2020, and its service entry is now set for early 2021. This is yet another delay for the MC-21 programme from its initial timeline, but is not critical for the existing sales backlog which has remained unchanged for several years at 175 firm orders, mainly from state leasing companies. Aeroflot is set to become the launch customer, with a firm order for 50 aircraft and options for a further 35. But the composite materials hiatus has revealed the technological vulnerability of the Russian aerospace industry, which remains heavily exposed to political risks. It has affected not just the MC-21 programme, but also the SSJ100 towards wider localisation and import phase-out. On the one hand, this spells good news for domestic suppliers for whom the situation opens new windows of opportunity to take on leading roles in significant projects. For example, it has forced the acceleration of the PD-14 engine development, Russia’s first all-new commercial engine that is being adopted for the MC-21. In turn, this engine programme may grow into a platform for a family of engines. On the other hand, it is obvious that not all western-made systems employed in the MC-21 and in the SSJ100 may be promptly and easily replaced with locally made alternatives, which means that the risks for these programmes in the case of a further stiffening of the economic sanctions remain quite high. SUPERJET 100 UAC’s only completed commercial project to have successfully entered service, the SSJ100, lost its connection with the Sukhoi brand name after Sukhoi ceded its share in SCAC to parent company UAC. The aircraft is now promoted as simply the Superjet 100. The growth of the SSJ100 operational fleet has created new challenges though. In 2018 the combined fleet of SSJ100s in service expanded by more than 40 per cent, reaching 140 aircraft, mostly with Russian operators. Supported through the Russian state-subsidised leasing of the SSJ100 via the State Transport Leasing Company (GTLK), this has proved to be an efficient promotional mechanism for the programme. So the growing number of Russian SSJ100 operators, including Azimuth Airlines, which operates a fleet based entirely on the type, is reason for optimism. But, at the same time, the presence of the SSJ100 in markets outside Russia has been shrinking. Irish CityJet, the type’s first European customer, which used to wet lease the Russian-made aircraft to European airlines such as Brussels Airlines, finally abandoned its plans and Mexico’s Interjet, the first customer in the Americas, has also voiced numerous concerns regarding challenges in operating the type. The main complaints coming from operators both inside and outside Russia are issues associated with lagging aftersales support and the paucity of spare parts supplies. Whilst large carriers such as Aeroflot are more easily able to absorb long aircraft groundings for technical reasons, smaller regional airlines like Yakutia and Yamal face sizeable financial losses. The aftersales support problems are in the process of being addressed, both through the efforts of GTLK and through a growing number of maintenance service providers that have been approved for ensuring the continued airworthiness of the type. Clearly the SSJ100 will continue to enjoy state support in all ways possible, serving as a role model for future commercial aviation projects. Production of the type received another injection in the autumn of 2018, when state-run Aeroflot was essentially instructed to place a preliminary order for 100 of the regional aircraft. Along with that, UAC and SCAC have been evaluating the Superjet programme’s future development paths. Whilst initially these discussions were mainly along the lines of creating a family of aircraft by adding a stretched version as well as a shortened 75-seat SSJ75 version, it now seems the priority has shifted towards maximising the share of Russian-made components on the aircraft. It is hoped that this ‘Russified’ version could open new niche markets for the SSJ100, especially those closed to western aircraft types. [caption id="attachment_17992" align="alignnone" width="640"] The design definition stage for the CR929 project is scheduled to be complete before the end of this year (UAC)[/caption] CR929 The new wide-body airliner project dubbed CR929, which is being jointly developed by plane-makers Russia’s UAC and China’s COMAC, has reached the design definition stage, which is expected to be completed before the end of this year, along with the first-tier supplier line-up. Flight tests are scheduled for the period between 2023 and 2025, with service entry anywhere between 2025 and 2027. According to the president of UAC, as of mid-2019, the programme has accumulated some 200 letters of intent, but neither the Russian, nor the Chinese side of the joint venture has disclosed the names of potential customers, although, traditionally, these are likely to be state-controlled airlines and leasing companies. Clearly, trying to push the CR929 beyond its home markets will be a challenge, as it will face stiff competition from Airbus and Boeing wide-body aircraft. At this stage, though, the main challenge facing the Russo-Sino co-operation is the distribution of design responsibilities between UAC and COMAC. The fact that two years on from the programme’s official launch and the creation of the CRAIC joint venture with its headquarters in Shanghai, the partners have still not been able to organise a joint engineering centre, may indicate significant concerns about the roles of the partners in the project.

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