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INTERVIEW: Sanctions “continuous anxiety factor” – Boeing International vice-president

ср, 15/11/2017 - 00:00
In an exclusive video interview with Russian Aviation Insider, Sergey Kravchenko, vice-president of Boeing International and president of Boeing Russia and CIS, shared his impressions of the Wings of the Future 2017 forum organized by ATO Events. He also spoke of the corporation's cooperation with Russia on titanium production and space exploration, stressed the need for more low-cost carriers, and expressed hope that the Western sanctions against Russia would soon be lifted. How did you find this year's Wings of the Future forum? I think the conference is definitely getting better. We were very lucky this year to have Bjorn Kjos here, the person who is widely regarded as one of the leaders of the aviation industry. He is a revolutionary, and an LCC pioneer. Bjorn's presentation was incredibly interesting, especially because he came up with new and non-conventional strategies for Russia's economic development and for promoting the travel industry. This country desperately lacks low-cost carriers. Thanks to the efforts of [Aeroflot CEO] Vitaly Savelyev and [his company], today we see that the legislation has been amended, and that [Aeroflot Group subsidiary] LCC Pobeda Airlines has been set up. This is a huge success, but for a country this big there should definitely be several budget carriers. They will be crucial for increasing the population's mobility and for boosting the travel industry. Experts say that every 100 tourists generate 75 new jobs. Can you imagine what that might mean with regard to, say, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Sochi, Yekaterinburg, or Vladivostok? I think it is great that we had a chance to discuss all those issues today. The second panel, which was devoted to innovations and industry development trends, turned out to be interesting as well. Boeing, Airbus, and the UAC [Russia's United Aircraft Corporation] delivered remarkable presentations. What other potential growth drivers in the air transport industry do you see in Russia and the region? First of all, I would point out the amazing results so far: the industry is growing at 5-6% in terms of passenger traffic, and we registered a 20% growth in the first half of this year. All this proves that the economy is getting rearranged and adapted. Public mobility appears to be the main growth factor for the national economy. We will see growing demand for a much bigger number of operations, not only via the Moscow hubs but also through regional airports. We are now witnessing a new generation growing up, one that is much more mobile. Perhaps these people do not make enough money so far to afford traveling with premium airlines, which continue to dominate the national market, so they will need such solutions as Pobeda. Seriously, Aeroflot did a very good job, something that will benefit all of us. It set a precedent. I also admire the achievements of [Pobeda Airlines CEO] Andrey Kalmykov's team. They hold the world record for Boeing 737 daily utilization. We hope that the carrier will keep growing, and that we will soon see new LCCs emerge in Russia. How are the Western sanctions and the political situation affecting Boeing's investment plans for Russia? The sanctions are certainly not making anyone's life any easier, they are a continuous anxiety factor. What we appreciate most in business is stability and predictability. Fortunately, so far no sanctions have been introduced against any civil aviation projects. Currently, we are finalizing the project to build our second factory that will produce titanium components as part of our joint venture with VSMPO-AVISMA in the Urals. Russian airlines have been ordering record numbers of aircraft from Boeing; the deliveries are impressive. There are understandably fundraising difficulties under the current sanctions, but this problem is being addressed thanks to Sberbank, VEB, VTB, and Chinese banks. Our life would definitely be much easier without the sanctions. I would prefer for them to be lifted as soon as possible. But even though we are going through hard times of political confrontation, cooperation in the civil aviation sector continues. Recently I have discussed this issue with Alexander Neradko, who heads the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency. I told him that we are lucky to be able to fly well above all those political storms and political clouds. I really hope that it will continue to be the case in future, because aviation safety and passenger safety must not fall victim to political wrangling. We have achieved great results; both US and Russian professionals have great respect for one another, they have been working side by side for many years. We are designing aircraft together, we are operating them and enhancing their safety and reliability together. Moreover, we have recently launched a major pilot training and aviation safety center in Skolkovo, and I very much hope that we will continue to carry out all these projects and that the sanctions pressure will not affect us. You have mentioned the titanium project. What are its prospects for 2018 and beyond? We have been building on this cooperation for many years now, it has been on for almost 20 years. We are truly proud of our joint projects with VSMPO-AVISMA, which is undoubtedly the best titanium producer in the world that supplies the aerospace industry. We keep increasing the degree of titanium processing, and are now actually buying ready-to-go finished parts that go straight onto our aircraft and are also supplied to landing gear and engine manufacturers. Our planned second facility will be focused precisely on this. In 2018 and 2019, we will intensify our efforts on another of our joint projects, which is a joint research and development center. It is a known fact that the [Boeing 787] Dreamliner has not only Russian-made parts but also parts manufactured of Russian-supplied alloys. We would like for our new 777X, for which VSMPO-AVISMA is already the key supplier of presswork, to have more Russian-made parts and parts produced with Russian technologies. It is a mutually profitable project: – we have a 50/50 joint venture, and this ratio also applies to any jointly created intellectual property. So the wonderful [Irkut] MC-21 airliner […] will be able to have absolutely the same titanium parts and use the same titanium technologies as we have on our Dreamliner. Airbus, however, will have to wait. How is your cooperation with the Russian Space Agency going? We have established great business relationships with the agency's head Igor Komarov and his team. They have a very pragmatic and businesslike approach to projects which have huge background, such as the International Space Station, as well as to civil space projects. It is exactly this kind of attitude, when excellent engineering traditions are combined with well-planned business ideas, that we like most of all. This is perhaps because Komarov is a former businessman, he used to be in banking and automotive business, but we definitely sense new blood being brought into this. And that is really great. Both Komarov and [Rocket and Space Corporation] Energia CEO [Vladimir] Solntsev inherit to the amazing history of our aerospace industry, they truly respect it and proudly fly the flag which was once raised by [Soviet space exploration pioneer Sergei] Korolev, but at the same time they are interested in developing the industry as a business. This is what we lacked in the past, and what inspires me with regard to interesting future projects.

MAKS 2019 exhibition to be held at its usual venue

сб, 04/11/2017 - 00:00
The 2019 iteration of MAKS, Russia's premiere biennial aerospace exhibition historically held in Zhukovsky just outside Moscow since 1992, will retain its location. This follows from the Russian government's approval of the country's defense exhibitions for the next two years. The government earllier discussed the possibility of transferring MAKS to Kubinka, a military aerodrome, which currently serves as the venue for the Army Forum. At this year's MAKS 2017 show, Rostec Corporation head Sergey Chemezov indirectly confirmed the plan. However, in early October President Vladimir Putin agreed to keep MAKS at its traditional location. The government decree formalizes this decision. Moving the show to Kubinka would mean having to build additional transport infrustructure to the tune of nearly 100 billion rubles ($1.7 billion), Kommersant daily reported. Since its inception in 1992, the show has been held at Zhukovsky's Ramenskoye airfield, which belongs to the Gromov Flight Research Institute. The dates were shifted from August to July in 2017 so that the participants could also prepare for the Army Forum at Kubinka, another major defence show.

Russian Helicopter Systems receives its fourth medevac Ansat helicopter

вт, 24/10/2017 - 00:00
Russian Helicopter Systems (RHS) has received its fourth medevac-configured Kazan Helicopters Ansat rotorcraft from State Transport Leasing Company (GTLK). Registere RA-20006, the aircraft will serve in Volgograd Region. RHS has been receiving helicopters from the lessor as part of the federal program to develop medevac aviation in Russian regions. Deliveries began in May 2017. The first three helicopters are already operated in Volgograd, Kurgan, and Pskov regions. The RHS fleet now includes five of the type. The first rotorcraft was delivered in the VIP version. GTLK has a contract for 29 rotorcraft with Russian Helicopters. The deal also includes Mil Mi-8AMT and Mi-8MTV-1 helicopters.

Russian Helicopters developing electrically driven tiltrotor

пн, 23/10/2017 - 00:00
Russia's VR-Technologies design bureau, part of the Russian Helicopters corporation, has embarked on developing Russia's first electrically-driven tiltrotor craft with an MTOW of 1.5 tons. The company expects to build the first prototype by 2019. The aircraft will be based on the VRT30 unmanned tiltrotor, whose experimental version was showcased at the 2017 MAKS exibition. It is currently in testing, and production is set to be launched in late 2018. The partner in the tiltrotor program is a private company called SuperOks, a Russian producer of superconductor materials. At MAKS 2017, the partners agreed to cooperate on developing flying machines that would incorporate a high-temperature superconductivity technology. Using this in the architecture of onboard cable network would be beneficial for both weight and performance characteristics of tiltrotors, Russian Helicopters notes. A tiltrotor UAV does not require a runway for operation, but it can hover and accelerate to high speeds in level flight thanks to its convertible rotors. It is also environmentally friendly due to low noise levels and gas emissions.

New heat exchanger production line launched in Russia

сб, 21/10/2017 - 00:00
Hamilton Standard-Nauka (HS-Nauka), a joint venture between UTC Aerospace Systems and Russia's NPO Nauka producing heat exchangers for civil aircraft's air conditioning systems, has launched a second manufacturing line at its site in Kimry, Tver Region. The company will use the new capacities to boost production and expand the product line, particularly through the assembly of heat exchangers for future Boeing 777X widebodies. The production growth will allow for a 25% increase in sales in 2018, CEO Roman Chichelov says. The second line is expected to reach its design capacity in 2019, bringing company's total labor hours up 50% to 450,000. A total of 300 million rubles ($5.2 million) has bee invested in the second production line so far, with 800 million rubles to come in future, Chichelov adds. The investment project might soon become subject to a special investment contract (SIC), which is currently awaiting the approval of the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade. Viktor Evtukhov, a deputy minister, announced at the facility inauguration ceremony that the SIC might be signed shortly. [caption id="attachment_10930" align="alignnone" width="620"] The opening ceremony for the second Kimry production line was attended by (left to right): Senator Andrey Yepishin, Tver Region Governor Igor Rudenya, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Viktor Evtukhov, NPO Nauka CEO Evgeny Merkulov, United Technologies’ International Operations Russia President Elena Alexandrova, and UTC Aerospace Systems Electric Systems President Timothy White (NPO Nauka)[/caption] HS-Nauka's products are installed on Boeing 767, 777 and 787 airliners, as well as on Airbus А380s, Bombardier Q400s, CRJ200s, Embraer 135/145/170/190s, Xian MA600s, MA700s, Cessna Citation business jets, Mitsubishi Regional Jets; Tupolev Tu-204/214s; Ilyushin Il-96-300s, Il-114s, Kamov Ка-62s, Mil Mi-38s, etc. Only 10% of HS-Nauka's suppliers are Russian-based. This is because the company has very stringent quality standards and places relatively small orders. This might change soon, however. One of the manufacturer's supply chain localization projects is with aluminum giant RUSAL. “We are planning to use Russian-sourced semi-finished aluminum products and are currently working on a pre-production batch,” Chichelov explains. “After we have satisfied ourselves that the plan is workable, we will start thinking how to implement it.” HS-Nauka was established in Moscow in 1994. In order to meet the growing market demand, the company launched another production site, in Kimry, in October 2011. About 90% of the enterprise's output is exported. By Evgenia Kolyada

Government prepared to reduce share in Russia’s revamped UAC

вт, 10/10/2017 - 00:00
The Russian government does not rule out that its share in the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) may be reduced after the latter's reorganization, and has indeed made provisions for such a reduction. The state intends to retain the controlling interest in the corporation, reads a draft presidential decree on the corporationj's reorganization that has been elaborated and proposed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The document also reads that the new structure will be called Irkut Corporation. According to the document, the government is to retain control over more than 50% of the company’s shares. In reality, this might mean 50% plus one share. Currently, 91.6782% of the corporation's stock is held by the State Property Management Agency. The UAC, in its turn, holds 86.12% in Irkut Corporation. The document outlines how this structure is going to change: the corporation will merge with Irkut, and the resultant company will perform all the functions currently performed by the UAC.  The document contains no indications as to the future role of UAC subsidiary Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC), which was previously predicted to merge with the UAC and Irkut. The draft decree reads that, once the merger is complete, the newly formed organization under the new name will be added to the so-called list of strategic enterprises.  An earlier reorganization plan called for converting the corporation to a single share and setting up its corporate center with a more compact structure. That center was supposed to be created on the premises of Irkut Corporation, and would inherit all of the UAC's civil-aviation functions. In this set-up, the SCAC would be responsible for the marketing, sales and aftersales support across the UAC's entire product range. The restructuring process is scheduled to be completed within 12 months of the decree's signing. Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov earlier said that the UAC, the SCAC, and Irkut would be merged together before the end of 2019. The merger plan was first announced in late August 2017. The explanation given was that it would expedite further development of Russia's civil aircraft industry and increase the share of civil projects in the UAC's portfolio in compliance with a government strategy through to the year 2035. The restructuring is also expected to help cut the corporation's overhead expenses.

GTLK receives two Mi-8MTV-1 medevac helicopters

пт, 06/10/2017 - 00:00
Russian Helicopters has handed over two Mil Mi-8MTV-1 medevac helicopters to the State Transport Leasing Company (abbreviated to GTLK in Russian). The aircraft will be handed over to Chukotavia and Altay Avia. The aircraft will be used for medevac and air-ambulance services in hard-to-reach regions of Russia. Russian Helicopters expects to deliver a total of 10 Mi-8MTV-1s to the lessor over the course of 2017. Under a different contract, the GTLK will receive 13 Mi-8AMT and six Kazan Helicopters Ansat rotorcraft. Medevac helicopters have already joined the fleets of Russian Helicopter Services, Polar Airlines, the air operator Yeltsovka, Abakan Air, Aeroservice, Angara Airlines, Vyatka Avia, and the Naryan-Mar and Second Arkhangelsk Air Squadrons. The final deliveries should be complete by the end of October. This summer the GTLK signed an agreement to supply a total of 31 helicopters to customers throughout 2018. The order includes 13 Mi-8AMTs, six Mi-8MTV-1s, and 12 Ansats. Russian Helicopters took to assembling the vehicles in late September. A firm order for the rotorcraft will be signed as soon as the Russian government passes an order to extend its air medical services program. Russian Helicopters is expected to deliver up to 200 helicopters to the GTLK by 2025. The lessor told Russian Aviation Insider that it has received over 200 applications from more than 40 airlines.

Round-the-clock maintenance support available for medevac Ansat helicopters

пт, 06/10/2017 - 00:00
Russian Helicopters has launched a dedicated maintenance arm, TeMPo, which will be providing 24/7 services for Kazan Helicopters Ansat rotorcraft delivered to customers as part of the nationwide medevac aviation development program. The service allows operators to file technical requests, as well as ordering the development of damage repair programs and updates to operating documents. "This large-scale project is bringing Russian Helicopters' aftersales support to a new level," says CEO Andrey Boginsky. "The TeMPo service is already involved in the development of medevac aviation in Russia: all the Ansat operators are granted access to the system upon receiving their helicopters. Moreover, the system is available not only in Russian, but also in English, making it accessible to our foreign customers as well." Deliveries of Ansat helicopters in the medevac configuration were launched in May this year via State Transport Leasing Company (GTLK). Two of the type are operated by Russian Helicopter Systems, another one was delivered to Vyatka Avia. Earlier, TeMPo provided maintenance and support services to Russian and foreign operators of Ansat and Kamov Ka-32 helicopters. The service plans to expand the range of helicopter types services by December 1, adding the Mil Mi-8AMT, Mi-171E, and Mi-171A2. Several rotorcraft designs which are currently under development will also be added eventually. Russian Helicopters expects that by 2020 its maintenance arm will have come to service 80% of all helicopters manufactured by the holding company. TeMPo is accessible online via a special section of the aftersales service website, and also through a dedicated phone line and by email. Among other things, it allows helicopter operators to check on the current status of their requests. To gain access to TeMPo, an operator must register at the Helicopter Service Company website.

MAKS exibition to retain historical location

вт, 03/10/2017 - 00:00
Russian President Vladimir Putin has permitted the biennial aerospace exhibition MAKS to continue to be held at Ramenskoe airfield outside the town of Zhukovsky, which has housed the show for the last 25 years, a source in the industry told Russian Aviation Insider. The decision will be turned into a formal governmental resolution before the end of this year. Such documents typically include a list of all international shows to be held in Russia, complete with the dates and organizers. The 2015 resolution listed the Ministry of Industry and Trade and Rostec Corporation as the organizers of MAKS. Rumours that the exhibition might be moved to Kubinka airfield, also outside Moscow, began to spread last year. At the latest airshow, Rostec head Sergey Chemezov indirectly confirmed the plans by saying he doubted that the next MAKS would be held at Zhukovsky. “An exhibition center has been built at Kubinka,” Chemezov said. “Works is currently underway to extend the airfield's runway and erect chalets. The exhibition halls are already in place there.” Putin agreed to keep the exhibition at its present location after the government calculated that construction of associated transport infrastructure would cost almost 100 billion rubles ($1.73 billion), Kommersant daily reports. MAKS has been held at Ramenskoe airfield, which belongs to the Gromov Flight Research Institute, since 1992. In 2017, the traditional show dates were shifted from August to July to allow participants to prepare for another major event, the international forum Army, which was held at Kubinka in August.

Kazan Helicopters reveals Ansat modernization plans

ср, 20/09/2017 - 00:00
Kazan Helicopters, a subsidiary of Russian Helicopters, is planning to upgrade its Ansat light rotorcraft. The news was announced at the annual conference of Ansat operators, which was held in Kazan on September 14. The upgrades will be made to the version equipped with a conventional hydromechanical flight control system. The OEM's chief designer, Anton Bushuev, explains that the Ansat is planned to be certified to operate in an expanded range of outside air temperatures, up to +50°С: "We are now sending a helicopter to Pakistan for hot-climate flight tests. The program will comprise 50 flights, in the course of which we hope to extend the operating temperature envelope to +50°С unless any restrictions apply. We expect to complete these tests before the end of this year." Earlier the helicopter was certified to operate in cold temperatures, down to –45°C. Among the upgrades already in progress is the installation of a winch. The first winch prototype to be used in flight testing is expected to be delivered shortly. Also scheduled for this year is the installation of external cargo containers with up to 200 kg freight capacity. A test prototype is being assembled, and will be tested in flight later this year. The R&D effort to design a vibration dampening system for the Ansat has largely been completed. Two design options have been selected; these will be delivered to Kazan Helicopters before the end of September. Both options will be made available to operators: the four-unit variant for VIP and medevac aircraft, and the more conventional three-unit system. Dmitry Sergeev, adviser to the Russian Helicopters CEO, says the system ensures vibration dampening levels comparable to those offered by the VIP variant of the AgustaWestland AW139. Another modification comes in the form of an external sling, to be certified in Q2 2018. The OEM chose American Onboard Systems as the supplier. The sling-equipped rotorcraft will be capable of lifting 1.5 tons of freight externally, bringing its overload weight up to 3,900 kg. Speaking of modernization plans for 2015, Bushuev mentioned an Ansat prototype with an all-composite nose section. A prototype has successfully passed bird strike tests at Baranov Central Institute of Aviation Motor Development. Flight tests should be carried out in Q1 and Q2 2018. The aircraft’s tail boom will be equipped with new empennage, which is expected to improve stability in different fight modes. The use of composites should prolong the helicopter’s service life. Also next year, the Ansat is to be outfitted with an upgraded modified information and management system. This will enable IFR flights in adverse weather, among other things. One of the requests voiced by operators at the conference was for the Ansat’s range to be expanded. Bushaev remarked that Kazan Helicopters is working on this in cooperation with the French fuel system supplier Aerazur. The first phase of the project, scheduled for 2018, will involve tests on shock-resistant fuel tanks. This should extend the Ansat’s 510-km baseline range by an extra 30 km. In 2019, a fuel system with a 700-liter main tank and an auxiliary tank is to be designed. It will extend the Ansat’s range to 1,000 km. Its installation will require the introduction of a new main rotor blade profile; the helicopter’s MTOW will need to be increased by 150 kg to 3,750 kg. The fly-by-wire version, dubbed Ansat-U, which has not yet been certified to civilian standards and is currently operated by the Russian military, will also be subjected to upgrades. Its anti-icing system will be tested in December and January, and is expected to be ready for operational entry next year. The technology could then be transferred to the civil version. Several options are planned for the medevac version of the Ansat. These will include a humidicrib, whose prototype is currently under development.

GTLK receives two more medevac helicopters

пн, 18/09/2017 - 00:00
Russia's State Transport Leasing Corporation (GTLK) has taken delivery of two more helicopters in medevac configuration produced by Kazan Helicopters (part of Russian Helicopters holding). One of these, an Ansat light rotorcraft, is intended for Russian Helicopter Systems (RHS). The second one, a medium-class Mil Mi-8MTV-1, will be operated by Arkhangelsk's Second United Aviation Squadron. RHS expects to start using its Ansat for medevac missions in late September. It will fly patients to the Pskov regional clinical hospital from around the region. The operator already has three Ansats, including one in VIP configuration. RHS received its first of the type in early 2017, and has been operating it in Volgograd Region. According to CEO Alexey Zaitsev, the aircraft has logged more than 200 flight hours, and has recently carried its hundredth patient. The second helicopter arrived in early September, and is currently in service in Kurgan Region. RHS maintains its own helicopters in-house, including heavy checks, under a FAP-285 certificate, Zaitsev told Russian Aviation Insider. The new Mi-8MTV-1 will be put into operation in Arkhangelsk Region in late September, the operator's flight director, Sergey Shamov, told Russian Aviation Insider. It will be used on medevac and passenger transportation missions. According to the Federal Air Transport Agency, the Arkhangelsk squadron already has 11 Mi-8 family rotorcraft, including one Mi-8MTV-1 and nine Mi-8Ts. The newly delivered aircraft represent a 29-ship batch (10 Mi-8MTV-1s, 13 Mi-8AMTs, an six Ansats) supplied to GTLK under a contract with Russian Helicopters that was signed in November 2016. All the helicopters will be equipped with medevac cabins. They are being leased to Russian operators on preferential terms thanks to government support measures provided to GTLK. Deliveries of the batch are expected to be completed by year-end. Dmitry Sergeev, advisor to the Russian Helicopters CEO, confirmed to Russian Aviation Insider that the last of the batch is scheduled for delivery in October. He also cited the Health Ministry as estimating short-term demand for medevac helicopters in Russia at around 60 aircraft. GTLK will receive additional funding for the regional medevac program from the federal budget in 2017. This, and money to be raised from third-party investors, will enable the lessors to acquire 31 more helicopters (19 Mi-8s and 12 Ansats) in 2018.

Russo-Chinese AHL helicopter project reaches next stage

пт, 15/09/2017 - 00:00
Technical specifications for a heavy-lift helicopter, known as the Advanced Heavy Lifter (AHL), have been finalized by Russian Helicopters and China's Avicopter. The final phase of the AHL project was agreed upon after negotiations between representatives of the two countries at this year's China Helicopter Exposition. The project stems from an intergovernmental agreement signed by Russia and China in 2016 to design the AHL and set up its series production in China. The agreement, approved by the Russian government in February 2017, makes it clear that the final result will be an almost completely Chinese product. Project management will be handed over to the Chinese party and the resultant helicopter will be chiefly aimed at the Chinese market. Russian Helicopters will offer support by developing certain subsystems for the rotorcraft that will ultimately be manufactured in China. "We have managed to come to a consensus with our Chinese partners regarding the technical specifications for the AHL," said Russian Helicopters CEO Andrey Boginsky. "We now clearly envision the helicopter's characteristics. At China Helicopter Exposition we carried out constructive negotionations with our Avicopter colleagues, during which we exchanged opinions about the project's financial side. The Russian side [...] will be ready to sign by the end of the year." The current agreement does not lay out a schedule. As of last year, officials hoped to have the AHL certified by 2025. Only civilian roles are currently being mulled for the helicopter, although it is also expected to find some use with the Chinese military.

Russian government to restrict purchase of foreign-built airliners

пн, 11/09/2017 - 00:00
Russian government has proposed a draft legislation, which may set a restriction to purchase of foreign-built aircraft by Russian airlines. The bill has been passed to the State Duma for review. It is expected to foster development of Russian aerospace industry, the government explains. The current regulation implies that all purchases within the frameworks of investment projects valued 10 billion rubles ($175 million) and up should be coordinated with the government. This requirement applies to companies, which are owned by the state by more than 50% and their subsidiaries as well as private companies, which obtained state guarantees of financing in the amount of 10% of their project cost. The proposed amendments virtually allow the government to force airlines to coordinate their purchases or leasing deals involving foreign-built aircraft with a commission for import substitution. The specific criteria will be determined by a separate document, but it is assumed that such coordination will be required for purchase or leasing of aircraft priced above 1 billion rubles (or $17.5 million). The official catalogue price of Airbus A320 and Boeing 737-800, the most popular foreign types with Russian airlines, is $99 million and $98 million respectively, which translates to around 5.6 billion dollars at current rate. Catalogue prices for widebody aircraft exceed 10 billion rubles. The price of A350-900, which is scheduled for delivery to Russia's state-run Aeroflot Airlines in 2019, is 17.8 billion rubles ($311 million), although the manufacturer may offer discounts depending on the terms of their contracts. Commenting on the bill, Russian vice-president Dmitry Rogozin said the new regulation might become effective as early as January 1, 2018, Interfax newswire reports. The present initiative is not the first one in the recent times, aimed at supporting Russian aerospace industry. In late August the country's Transport Ministry announced it was elaborating amendments to current regulations obliging all airlines to have at least three Russian-made aircraft no older than five years in their fleets in order to obtain an Air Operator Certificate. Earlier, Ministry of Industry and Trade proposed to cancel beneficial customs duties applied to imported aircraft with seating capacity from 50 to 300 passengers and with MTOW between 20 and 90 tons.

Teсhnodinamika, private investor to set up major parts producer

сб, 09/09/2017 - 00:00
Russian holding company Technodinamika will set up the country's largest producer of aviation components at its premises, its parent structure Rostec Corporation has announced. The second partner on the project, and its strategic investor, is Russian privately-owned company CSTS Dinamika, which runs an aircraft component and aftersales support business. The new structure will be an association of more than 50 research and production companies specializing in the development, production, and servicing of aircraft components, electronic equipment, software, simulators, and unmanned systems. The organization is expected to become one of the world's five largest aviation component providers. Rostec and Dinamika will join assets as part of the project. According to Vedomosti daily, the private company will purchase Tekhnodinamika's controlling stake from Rostec, which currently holds 94.92% of the subsidiary's shares. The project has been approved by Rostec's board. It is now subject to approval by the state corporation's supervisory council and by the Russian government. The terms and conditions of the merger will be specified later on, simultaneously with the evaluation of the assets involved and the finalization of the deal's structure. "The private-public partnership that we are developing in key industry segments will help us reach the government-defined targets faster," Rostec CEO Sergey Chemezov commented. "In terms of the aviation industry, we intend to begin offering a significantly expanded range of aircraft systems and components, manufacture local equivalents of foreign-made parts in the interest of the Russian aerospace industry, and enter global markets with new products. This scenario is in line with our development strategy, and we are implementing it step by step." Technodinamika has joint projects with Russia's United Aircraft Corporation, United Engine Corporation, and Russian Helicopters, as well as with US-based Curtiss-Wright Corporation. Dinamika produces components for the aerospace and defense industries, aviation simulation systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles. It also provides aircraft maintenance services. The company runs more than 10 businesses with an annual turnover in excess of 20 billion rubles ($350.5 million).

Irkut, SCAC to be merged into UAC corporate center

пн, 04/09/2017 - 00:00
The ongoing reform of Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) will see its corporate structure transformed into a single company and converted to a single share, reads the corporation's statement. The process will involve merging the corporation's subsidiaries Irkut Corporation and Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC), transforming them into a so-called corporate center. The decision was finalized at the September 4 board meeting of the three companies. The portion of the corporate center to be based at Irkut's premises will function as UAC's commercial aviation division, whereas SCAC in its new format will be responsible for marketing, sales, and aftersales support of all of UAC's commercial programs. The structural reform has been accompanied by changes in the top management. Irkut President Oleg Demchenko will now hold the position of vice-president and chief designer. UAC's current president, Yury Slyusar, will temporarily fill in for Demchenko as head of Irkut, while continuing in his current role. Alexander Rubtsov, who has up to now been CEO of the lessor Ilyushin Finance Co., will become SCAC's new president. Rubtsov is replacing Vladislav Masalov, who has been appointed to chair the board of China-Russia Commercial Aircraft International Co (CRAIC), a joint venture between UAC and China's COMAC that is tasked with developing a widebody long-range aircraft program. The aim of the ongoing reforms is to replace UAC's current ramified structure, which has proven inefficient, with a more compact one. This is expected to speed up business processes within the corporation, as well as cutting administrative overhead costs. The reform is in line with the corporation's new strategy through 2035, which calls for the share of commercial production in UAC's model range to grow from the current 20% to more than 24%. The corporation's annual output is to reach between 100 and 120 airframes. The SCAC-produced Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) regional jet is one of UAC's ongoing commercial programs, as are the Tupolev Tu-204/214 and Irkut MC-21 narrowbodies, the Ilyushin Il-96 widebody, and the Ilyushin Il-114 regional turboprop. After the corporate center has been set up, the corporation will intensify work to create the transport, military, and strategic aviation divisions.

INSIGHT: Symbiosis of helicopter, UAV operations

сб, 02/09/2017 - 00:00
Russian helicopter operators have been keeping a close eye on the emerging trend of unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) operations – and for good reason. UAV systems offer a range of new competitive advantages, helping air transport operators survive intense market rivalry. That is why UTair Group subsidiary UTair – Helicopter Services LLC launched its own UAV operations this year. The subsidiary signed its first UAV commercial contract in January, following a thorough exploration of the market and the setting-up of a specific division within the company to administer UAV-related issues. Demand for unmanned air delivery services has been influenced in no small way by the severe downturn in oil prices. This development has fostered the introduction of UAVs as customers look to bring down their aerial services costs. In addition to that, some UTair – Helicopter Services contracts suffered in the past from the inconvenience of airspace being closed to helicopters – for up to a month at a time – as UAV operations rendered the airspace inaccessible. UTair – Helicopter Services believes the introduction of UAVs will help it not only retain the best balance between price and service quality, but will also bring additional fleet flexibility in its desire to fulfill customer orders. A new niche The company's UAV division is made up of drone operators and a ground support team. To achieve qualification for the job, operators complete specialist training courses at certified learning centers provided by the manufacturers. In particular, they learn how to pilot drones, they are taught the fundamentals of air space management and how to interact with the State ATM Corporation (the Russian federal agency for air traffic management). They also learn about the management of aerial data acquisition and its processing. These personnel hold university degrees and in most cases are former or active pilots with a good command of current technologies and geodesic engineering. The company's ground support team is tasked with flight servicing, data processing, customer interaction, as well as communications with UAV suppliers in terms of maintenance services, spare parts procurement, etc. UTair – Helicopter Services operates both its own UAVs and also some vehicles leased from third parties. The helicopter company refrained from revealing the exact number of UAVs it has in its fleet today, but assured Russian Aviation Insider that it is big enough to satisfy all its contract missions. The current agreements with drone manufacturers suggest that the carrier is provided with a certain degree of UAV redundancy. The air company is fully licenced to use aerial vehicles for commercial purposes and holds an air operator's certificate. At the HeliRussia 2017 exhibition, Vyacheslav Plyasukhin, the vice-president for business development at UTair – Helicopter Services, named Russian company Geoscan, a supplier of remotely piloted aerial photography equipment, as the company's principal partner. The two businesses have signed a cooperation agreement and are consistently combining their efforts in the development and introduction of new technologies to the area. Thus far, UTair – Helicopter Services has operated drones with a maximum flight time of three to four hours and an MTOW of less than 30 kilos. The company reveals that this category of UAVs is subject to less stringent governmental control in terms of maintenance requirements, flight operations, and operator training. They can carry photo and video cameras, as well as television equipment as payload. Currently, UTair – Helicopter Services is mainly using its UAVs to provide aerial photography services over linear infrastructure facilities (such as pipelines, power transmission lines, or roads) and construction sites, as well as production facility monitoring, high-resolution 3D-modeling, and similar tasks. Among the operator's main customers are power-generation and oil-and-gas companies of West Siberia. The technical maintenance of UAVs is carried out on a scheduled basis by the operator in cooperation with the manufacturers. In order to receive the relevant technical qualifications, the company's employees undergo relevant training. From the business and financial perspective, the company hopes to reach the break-even point for its UAV project by the end of 2017, and will then be able to recoup the initial investments it has made in the training of personnel and the purchase of vehicles. Plyasukhin told Russian Aviation Insider that, although the company failed to quickly cover the initial outlay, it is nonetheless expecting to achieve profitability by the end of this year. As for the long-term plans, the company is looking to extend its UAV fleet even further. In particular, it will acquire vehicles with greater range and with cruise airspeeds of up to 100-120 km/h. At the same time, UTair – Helicopter Services is also interested in the possibility of vertical takeoff and landing UAVs. [caption id="attachment_10348" align="alignnone" width="600"] Among UTair's main customers in the unmanned sector are West Siberian power-generation and oil-and-gas companies (UTair – Helicopter Services)[/caption] Synergy of UAVs and helicopters The experience of UAV operations has in the meantime convinced UTair – Helicopter Services that the combined use of helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles for commercial missions brings useful synergies. That is why the company has come up with a strategy to promote this symbiosis of such flying machines as a bundled service. Whether it is a light helicopter or a UAV, each has its own pros and cons for monitoring missions. For example, a light helicopter can cruise at a speed of 150-300 km/h, while an average UAV cannot go faster than 60-80 km/h. The conventional rotorcraft can perform the same job, but three-to-four-times faster than a UAV. On top of that, it can carry more payload equipment, which can be switched into the onboard electrical system. Moreover, light helicopters can be equipped with onboard aerial photography control systems allowing for the automatic performance of photo shoots and video recording. Finally, where needed, a helicopter can alter the route of its flight and return to any of the waypoints, while UAVs strictly follow a prescribed flight plan. On the other hand, UAV operations are considerably less expensive than flying any type of helicopter, whilst unmanned vehicles are also able to quickly detect any potential hazards at customer facilities. By contrast, using a passenger helicopter also means that, in the case of an oil spill for example, the operator can promptly deliver an emergency response team to the site. Another consideration is that having observers onboard a helicopter imposes additional operational risks, thereby increasing insurance costs for customers. When operating a UAV, no such additional expenses are incurred. Finally, drones are less expensive in creating highly credible databases of information acquired. Plyasukhin points out that exploiting this synergy of the two monitoring methods, and optimizing all their individual pros and cons, guarantees the best results: “Where the airspace becomes restricted, for example, helicopter operators have to change their flight plans and inevitably incur extra expenses, which affects the economics of the whole operation. The operator will then need to incorporate these expenses into the flying costs per hour. When it is one company that operates both rotorcraft and UAVs, there is room for maneuver – an opportunity to proactively dispatch the air space management processes. As a result, the company is able to offer its clients a much less costly service bundle.” UAV operations will grow like a snowball, Plyasukhin predicts: “To my mind, the most intensive rivalry within the aviation market will be in the software sector. It is interesting, of course, at what speed and at what altitude you cruise. But a much more vital issue is how fast you can process data either onboard or remotely, and how high the resolution of the acquired data might be. This is the [future] task that will require most of our attention.” By Evgenia Kolyada

Russian Helicopters posts 9% revenue growth for H1 2017

чт, 31/08/2017 - 00:00
Russian Helicopters saw its H1 2017 revenue increase 9.1% year-on-year to 93.827 billion rubles ($1.6 billion), reads the holding company's IFRS report. In 2016, the company had reported 86.042 billion rubles in revenue for the first half of the year, down 1.4% year-on-year. The largest share of this year's sum was generated by rotorcraft sales, which grew 6.6% to 70.663 billion rubles. Revenue from the company's aftersales and maintenance business decreased 10.7% to 15.589 billion rubles, whereas R&D services rendered to third parties generated 168 million rubles, up 52.7% year-on-year. Llike before, the company's main customers in terms of helicopter sales were Russian government agencies, such as the ministries of defense, internal affairs, emergencies, and industry and trade. They contributed "considerably upward of 10%" to Russian Helicopters' consolidated revenue. In terms of sales geography, the largest number of rotorcraft went to to Africa. Customers from that region contributed 39.036 billion rubles' worth to the company's revenue (-2.6% year-on-year), followed by Asia with 26.263 billion rubles (+39.1%). Russia came third with 23.336 billion rubles (+11.1%), and the CIS, fourth with 3.131 billion rubles (+10.7%). North and South Americas together generated 1,125 billion rubles (-37.9%). Finally, Europe generated 933 billion rubles (-35.2%). Russian Helicopters' net profits continued to slide. In the first half of 2017 it stood at 7.546 billion rubles, down 23.3% on the same period last year. For comparison, in the first half of 2016 the company's net profit was down 25.1% year-on-year; for the whole of 2016, it plunged 61.1% year-on-year. Russian Helicopters reports that its gross profit remained roughly level with the same period in 2016 at 43.351 billion rubles (up 0.3%). Unaudited long-term liabilities decreased 5.3% compared to late last year, to 85.624 billion rubles, whereas short-term liabilities grew 9.8% to 174.872 billion rubles. The company's financial performance mostly deteriorated during 2016. Russian Helicopters posted a revenue of 214.360 billion rubles for the year (-2.5%) and 16.204 billion rubles in profit. In the sales segment, its revenues decreased 6.4% to 165.750 billion rubles, but the aftersales and maintenance business actually grew 18.2% to 45.304 billlion rubles. The R&D segment, on the contrary, plummeted 77.5% to 491 million rubles.
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