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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.

Sukhoi Civil triples maintenance centre throughput at Zhukovsky

пт, 07/12/2018 - 00:00
Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co (SCAC), producer of Russia’s Superjet 100 regional jets has, in the space of a year, tripled the capacity of its maintenance operations at its Zhukovsky Centre (Moscow region). Since the beginning of this year, the facility has completed C-checks, service bulletins and customer requests on more than 20 of the aircraft, reveals Pavel Dyachenko, SCAC’s deputy senior vice-president of aftersales support. The throughput increase has been achieved through a combination of increasing the number of maintenance lines to five, improving the efficiency of the existing operational processes and hiring additional staff, the company explains. “We’re currently servicing aircraft [from the fleets of] Aeroflot, Yamal and other airlines, including government customers,” Dyachenko points out, referring to several new SSJ100 maintenance contracts the provider has won. Works and modifications performed under Service Bulletins (SB) may still take between 40 and 45 days, though. Commenting on this, Dyachenko admits: “There’s always space for perfection. We’re working on reducing the labour intensity of maintenance procedures in general and extending the time between shop visits.” The Zhukovsky centre is now capable of all modification requirements, including the assembly of winglets, and is planning to continue expanding its capabilities list to include tasks involving composite components and electronic units, Dyachenko adds. Sukhoi Civil also says it is currently in negotiation with several European maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) stations for extending the possible maintenance network for the Superjet 100 in Europe. “We will support any company which addresses us for assistance in obtaining the certificate for the type,” SCAC’s spokesman says. “Our assistance will be in providing the documentation.” As a result of this effort, SCAC last month signed a letter of intent with Slovenia’s Adria Airways for the setting up of a joint venture to provide maintenance services for the SSJ100 at Ljubljana airport. Regarding the expansion of the spare parts inventory and making it more accessible for the type’s operators, Dyachenko says that, in a Russian government support programme, the delivery of an aircraft now includes 115 million roubles worth of supplies of spare parts. Operators may also benefit from agreed bespoke spare parts and engine lease/purchase, or power-by-hour agreements. The latter option has already won several customers. The current component inventory value at Zhukovsky is calculated at 11 billion roubles, and includes more than 14,000 items but, in view of the significant projected increase of the SSJ100 fleet, the manufacturer is now also working on expanding the inventory. In terms of engine support, customer airlines are being directed to the powerplant manufacturer PowerJet joint venture and its Russian partner UEC Saturn, both of which are currently collaborating on stacking a pool of around 40 engines – and are promising to add more engine service slots in 2019. They are also working on measures to improve the engine’s performance. SCAC’s further plan for advancing the aircraft’s aftersales support capabilities includes additional simulator centres, better optimisation of documentation and other measures.

MC-21’s fuselage is delivered to TsAGI for endurance tests

ср, 05/12/2018 - 00:00
The fuselage of the second MC-21-300 prototype of the advance Russian medium-range airliner is to undergo endurance tests, having been delivered to the Zhukovsky (Moscow region) home of the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI) from the manufacturer Irkutsk Aviation Plant, a branch of Irkut (part of the United Aircraft Corporation UAC). Irkut specialists, together with employees of enterprises participating in the MC-21 cooperation and TsAGI staff will assemble the MC-21 airframe and install the loading system. The endurance tests are aimed at proving the viability of the fuselage design in terms of fatigue strength and operational survivability. During the tests, the airframe will be put through multiple loads simulating at least 180,000 flights. Meanwhile, TsAGI is continuing static tests on the MC-21-300 aircraft. Currently, two MC-21 units are taking part in flight certification tests. Assembly and installation of systems of the third flight test prototype of the MC-21 aircraft are now completed, with its systems at the final stage of adjustment. The fuselage assembly of the fourth MC-21 aircraft is also being finalised. The third flight test prototype of the aircraft is to join the testing programme in March next year, whilst the fourth will be ready by mid-2019. Certification of the MC-21, Russia’s advanced narrow-body aircraft project, has been postponed again recently, with the debut of the first variant of the airliner, powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines, now scheduled for 2020 – and the assembly of the fuselage sections of the MC-21 intended for delivery to a customer, has begun. [caption id="attachment_15732" align="alignnone" width="660"] The fuselage of the second endurance tests MC-21-300 prototype is being loaded into An-124 for transporting from airfield of Irkutsk Aviation Plant to Ramenskoye airfield in Zhukovsky (Irkut)[/caption]

Superjet 100 loses its Sukhoi nametag

ср, 28/11/2018 - 00:00
Russia’s Irkut Corporation, producer of the country’s MC-21 advanced airliner, has been handed full control of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC), manufacturer of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) regional jet, after receiving all of SCAC’s shares. SCAC was previously fully owned by Sukhoi Company and the change of ownership is part of an overall plan to create a fully-fledged, autonomous commercial aviation division under the auspices of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) parent company. The decision has been accepted by both planemakers, whose boards of directors have approved the switch, although no further details or comments have yet been offered by either company. A source in the industry has explained to Russian Aviation Insider that the SSJ100 has already lost the term ‘Sukhoi’ from its title and is instead to be re-marketed as Superjet 100, which is what UAC’s website is currently calling it. As a result of the corporate switch, UAC’s main commercial aircraft programmes are now the SSJ100 regional jet, the advanced narrow-body MC-21 – which stands for ‘Magistralny Samolet 21 veka’ in Russian, or ‘mainline aircraft of the 21st century’ – and the wide-body CR929 (C for China and R for Russia) which is being jointly developed by UAC with China’s COMAC. These projects are therefore no longer associated with a specific individual local manufacturer. Exceptions to this are the Ilyushin IL-114-300 turboprop and IL-96 wide-body, whilst the Tupolev Tu-204/214 are not longer listed on UAC’s website. The newly formed division with Irkut at its core is expected to later add other companies involved in the design and production of commercial aircraft, including the Yakovlev Design Bureau, Aerocomposite and others. The new structure will have a single engineering centre tasked with “combining the intellectual resources of all companies in developing the existing and respective programmes,” including Superjet and MC-21, says a statement. The marketing, sales and aftersales support functions for all commercial projects will also be combined under this single structure, “consolidating cooperation with suppliers and partners within prospective projects.” All current relevant, valid licences and certificates are likely to be sustained. Within the next 18 months, the United Aircraft Corporation is in turn due to be merged into the state-run hi-tec and aviation behemoth Rostec Corporation, as per the bill signed by Russia’s president Vladimir Putin in October.

Russia’s only EASA-certified rotorcraft to be modernised by 2020

вт, 27/11/2018 - 00:00
Russian rotorcraft monopoly Russian Helicopters has announced plans to upgrade the Kamov Ka-32A11BC civil coaxial helicopter, the only Russian-made rotorcraft that holds European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) type certification. The modernisation plan includes a new engine and advanced avionics, Nikolay Titov, project manager for Russian Helicopters, revealed at the Helicopter Forum-2018 in Kazan. The Ka-32A11BC, which is currently powered by TV3-117VMA engines, has earned its fame for successful fire-fighting missions and wood logging capabilities, as well as for transporting cargo in the cabin or via an external sling. "The modernisation programme will include new fire fighting equipment, the new VK2500PS-02 engine option, new avionics and, after additional research, new main rotor blades," Titov ventured. The upgrades will result in a 300 kg increase in MTOW, to 11,300 kg, and will also increase the external load lifting capability to 5,300 kg against the current 5,000. The new 4,000-litre fire fighting equipment will be available in 2019, whilst the rest of the upgrades are due to be completed in 2020, including the addition of new composite main rotor blades. "New helicopters will probably be produced in the upgraded version after 2020. Still, our preliminary calculations show that the cost will not be too much higher than for the current version of the Ka-32A11BC," Titov added. The Ka-32A11BC multi-role machine is the only Russian-produced helicopter that holds EASA type certification. It operates a range of search and rescue, fire-fighting, medevac and construction missions in 30 countries around the globe and, amongst others, is still being delivered to Canada, Spain, Switzerland, China, South Korea and Indonesia. 2018’s plans targeted seven further deliveries, including to a first-time Turkish customer. South Korea, one of the largest operators of the Ka-32A11BC, has meanwhile announced further interest in up to 21 helicopters for its forestry and EMERCOM departments by 2025, but insists that the entire fleet of the type should be re-engined from the TV3-117VMA to the VK-2500. EASA issued a standard EASA.IM.R.133 certificate for the Ka-32A11BC in 2009 that allows any company to commercially operate the helicopter. In 2008, the Ka-32A11BC was certified in China, Indonesia and South Korea, having achieved Mexican certification in 2005. The helicopter also received a supplement to the airworthiness certificate in 2006 in Canada, which allowed it to carry corporate passengers (the Canadian certificate itself was issued in 1998). The Ka-32A11BC helicopter was granted a type certificate in Brazil in 2011.

MC-21 certification postponed again

пн, 26/11/2018 - 00:00
Certification of the MC-21, Russia’s advanced narrow-body aircraft project, has been postponed again, with the debut of the first variant of the airliner, powered by Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines, now scheduled for 2020, says Alexander Rubtsov, president of manufacturer Sukhoi Civil Aircraft company (SCAC), in an interview published by Rossiyskaya Gazeta, the Russian government’s official daily news source. The aircraft’s service entry date was previously set for 2019. In the meantime, Russia’s Industry and Trade Ministry has revealed some new details on the test programme of the aircraft. The third flight test prototype of the MC-21 is to join the testing programme next spring, whilst the fourth will be ready by mid-2019, Oleg Bocharov, Russia’s deputy minister for industry and trade has revealed. “The second prototype has commenced test flights. The third will join in March 2019, and the fourth by the middle of next year,” he explains. “The flight test programme is going as planned and we don’t see any problems. We are hoping to confirm the economic efficiency of the composite wing in combination with the new [Russian-made] engine variant,” Bocharov adds, referring to the PD-14 engine, which received certification from the Russian aviation authorities in October. Earlier plans, first revealed in late 2016 by the then vice-prime minister Dmitry Rogozin, called for the United Engine Corporation’s (UEC) turbofan to power the fourth prototype. UEC has confirmed it is ready to supply the engines to Irkut before the end of 2018. However, Bocharov admits: “There are still some questions regarding the engine’s economy. But we will continue fine-tuning it. These are normal tolerable limits, acceptable for us within the technical requirements and targets,” the deputy minister has assured. The MC-21 – which will be powered by Pratt&Whitney’s PW1400G geared turbofan engine – first entered the flight-testing programme in May 2017, with the second prototype joining one year later. Along with building the prototypes, Irkutsk Aviation Plant is also currently assembling the fuselage for the first serial aircraft. The airframer has vouched that the cost of the new narrow-body aircraft will be lower than its western-built rivals. The current backlog includes firm orders for 175 aircraft, of which 50 will join the fleet of Russia’s flagship carrier Aeroflot.

Russia considers developing a 40-seat turboprop based on the Let L-610 design

пт, 23/11/2018 - 00:00
In the small 30 to 60-seat turboprop market – and in direct competition with local project the modernised Ilyushin IL-114 Russia is considering the development of a 40-seat regional turboprop aircraft based on the 30-year old Let L-610, a prototype aircraft originally developed by the Czech civil aircraft manufacturer Let Kunovice. The state is considering replacing the obsolete Soviet/Ukrainian An-24/26s, some 60 of which are still operational across the country, Russian Aviation Insider understands. The new aircraft is likely to be based on the Let L-610 platform, which was created in Czechoslovakia. The twin-engine turboprop made its maiden flight in December 1988. Russia’s Ministry for industry and trade believes the new product can fill the niche between the 19-seat L-410UVP-E20 and the 60-seat Ilyushin 114-300. The L-410UVP-E20 was also developed and produced by Let Kunovice, which was renamed Aircraft Industries once it became a subsidiary of Russia’s Ural Mining and Metallurgical Company (UMMC) in 2008. Over the last two years, media attention – ignited by governmental interest and some state comments surrounding the L-610 – has been gaining momentum. It was, for example, described as a ‘prospective project’ in the roadmap for the development of the so-called Titanium Valley – a special economic zone near Yekaterinburg, an initiative which was announced in 2016 by Evgeny Kuyvashev, the governor of Sverdlovsk Region. Earlier this month, Alexander Tarasov, the transport minister of Yakutiya, declared: “[With] regard to the An-24 [replacement], the Russian aerospace industry has suggested two projects – the IL-114-300 and the L-610.” Oleg Bocharov, the nation’s deputy minister for industry and trade, meanwhile delivered a speech unequivocally confirming the government’s commitment to the L-610 design, whilst addressing delegates at a recent government-supported Transport Week forum in Moscow, which included officials from the Ministry of Transport and Rosaviatsiya, the Russian aviation authority. “We understand that we are ready to purchase the [design and production] documentation for the L-610 from its Russian owners, and try to develop a 40-seat aircraft so that, in a five-year time period, [the aircraft] would enter service [filling the gap] between L-410 and the IL-114[-300] to enter the service by the end of 2021,” he declared. As Aircraft Industries is now fully owned by UMMC, the documents for the model are already formally in Russian hands. Bocharov continued: “We understand that this aircraft will obviously be cheaper than the IL-114-300 and, from an economic standpoint, will allow us to develop thin, now subsidised routes, whilst providing a smooth transfer from a 19-seat to a 40-seat aircraft and eventually to the IL-114.” The deputy minister for industry and trade also highlighted the high-wing configuration of the L-610, which may be a good option for those carriers that are dubious about the low-winged IL-114 being an adequate replacement for a high-wing An-24 at secondary airports. Russian Aviation Insider has been assured by one of its sources close to Aircraft Industries that the documentation for the L-610 has been preserved intact and launching serial production would not require a tremendous effort, provided sufficient funding is in place. Utilising the ‘off the shelf’ L-610 as a base for a new design could save between three and four years of development compared with starting such a project from scratch, notes the source. Meanwhile, an executive of one of Russia’s regional carriers has told Russian Aviation Insider that the L-610 is a ‘sound solution’ for replacing the Antonov An-24 turboprops and Yakovlev Yak-40 tri-jets, and that a 40-seat aircraft may be a more appealing prospect than a 50-seater. However, there are at least three big questions which remain to be answered before the L-610 programme is given the green light. Firstly, why has the Russian ministry chosen to concentrate on the L-610, when a local 30-seat Sukhoi Su-80GP programme was already at an advanced design stage 20 years ago? As one airline source put it, “…It doesn’t [seem to] matter how many seats an An-24 substitute has – as long as it is finally offered.” Secondly, proposing a 40-seater aircraft to regional airlines will trim the demand for a slightly bigger IL-114-300, further shrinking its serial production numbers value, a development which will result in higher unit costs and more expensive after-sales support. The plans for resuscitating the L-610 may indicate implicit problems with the IL-114 upgrade effort, another Russian Aviation Insider source suggests. Finally, is the question: if the L-610 is expected to be produced by Ural Works of Civil Aviation (usually referred to by the Russian acronym UZGA), which is currently responsible for licensing production in Russia of its smaller sibling the L-410, who is backing this private enterprise, which is trying to fulfill a special role in the Russian aerospace industry? Ural Works is not even formally declared as a part of United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and its newly-appointed parent Rostec, and any mention of UZGA is hard to find on either Rostec’s or UAC’s websites. UZGA’s own website places Rostec modestly among partners, along with Ural Trade and Industry Chamber etc.

Assembly of the first Ilyushin IL-96-400M kicks off at Voronezh

ср, 21/11/2018 - 00:00
Assembly of the first four-engine Ilyushin IL-96-400M wide-body passenger aircraft has begun at the Voronezh Aviation Plant (VASO) in southwest Russia. Earlier in November, the factory reported it was taking delivery of some structural components and was starting subassembly of the new version’s wing and fuselage. The design documentation for the complete aircraft is currently also being finalised. The Ilyushin IL-96-400M is a new passenger version, featuring a 9.65-metre longer, extended fuselage and an additional 20 tonnes of maximum take off weight (MTOW) compared with the original, base IL-96-400T cargo version. With a projected passenger capacity of 390 seats, the first flight of the aircraft – powered by Russian-made PS-90A1 engines – is scheduled for next year. The engine maker UEC-Perm Motors (part of United Engine Corporation) has confirmed it is planning to deliver the first engines for the programme before the end of this year. At the beginning of 2018, the Russian government allocated 1.32 billion roubles to United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), parent of the Voronezh Aviation Plant, for the necessary reconstruction and technical upgrade of the manufacturing facilities designated for serial assembly of the IL-96-400M. The IL-96-400M passenger aircraft project, although officially recognised as commercially unviable, is nevertheless aimed at sustaining and developing the all-round competences of VASO. The facility also participates in other UAC programmes such as the MC-21 advanced narrow-body, the Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) regional jet, the Ilyushin IL-114-300 upgraded regional turboprop, and the Ilyushin IL-76MD-90A transport aircraft. Maintaining and upgrading such production capabilities is part of the political strategy of preserving Russia’s aviation legacy and its independence from the west in view of the economic sanctions. Meanwhile, the Voronezh manufacturer has recently reported it was assembling the 25th aircraft of the IL-96-300 series. “We all have the desire to achieve steady production rates of these aircraft, so that the production of the IL-96 wouldn’t be interrupted. So we are making a great effort to ensure that the –M model is produced serially as soon as possible,” says Yury Shestakov, head of assembly at the Voronezh Aviation Plant. [caption id="attachment_15592" align="alignnone" width="660"] VASO started assembling of the 25th aircraft of the IL-96-300 series (VASO)[/caption] UAC earlier reported that the planned average production output for the model would be between two and 2.5 aircraft per year until 2025.

Two more Russian operators opt for the Sukhoi Superjet 100

ср, 21/11/2018 - 00:00
Two more Russian regional airlines have opted for the Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) aircraft. Yakutia-based Alrosa Airlines and Moscow-headquartered RusLine have both signed letters of intent for 12-year terms with the State Transport Leasing Company (known by its Russian acronym GTLK) for two each of the Russian-built regional jets. The documents were signed at the Transport Week-2018 trade show currently being held in Moscow. Both airlines have yet to operate the type, although the Mirny, Yakutia-based Alrosa Airlines did consider the SSJ100 option in its fleet renewal plans as recently as last year. Eventually it selected the Boeing 737-700 as being more suitable, especially in terms of its range capabilities and currently has this two of type in its fleet, along with three Boeing 737-800s as well as the Soviet/Russian-made An-2, An-24RV, An-26-100, An-38-100, Il-76TD and Tu-154 types. In the period from January to September of this year Alrosa, the diamond mining giant-owned airline, carried 410,571 passengers, registering a 17 per cent year-on-year increase and placing it in 22nd place in the league table of all Russian passenger airlines. RusLine, which describes itself as ‘a classic regional airline’, operates a unified fleet of 21 50-seat Bombardier CRJ100/200 jets. It has shown interest in the Superjet 100 before, but has also never operated the type. Taking SSJ100s may now make more sense though, as RusLine has become a feeder carrier for UTair, one of the country’s major airlines based at Moscow’s Vnukovo airport. RusLine enjoyed some limited experience of big jet operations when it leased two Airbus A319s in 2012-2013. Its current operational results place it at 20th in the ranking of Russian passenger carriers. Earlier this year, to promote the SSJ100, which is manufactured by Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC), the Russian government topped up the registered capital of state-run GTLK, the country’s biggest leasing company, by 9.8 million roubles designated for the purchase of eight SSJ100s set for delivery in 2018 and 2019. Of this batch, four aircraft will be delivered to Severstal Airlines and with the latest announcement, Alrosa and RusLine have emerged as potential customers for the remaining four. GTLK has been participating in the SSJ100 incentive programme through offering operational and financial lease contracts since 2015. The total investment for stimulating SSJ100 sales is now nearing 89.8 billion roubles (including subsidies planned for 2018). Of the programme’s current total of 44 units, as of today, GTLK has delivered 36 Sukhoi Superjet 100s to customers.

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