Facing Low Demand

Russian aircraft manufacturers increased deliveries in 2009, but this year’s sales remain uncertain

In 2009 the most of the world’s leading aircraft manufacturers managed to increase the number of delivered commercial airliners, but low demand from the air transport industry resulted in sharp slump of new orders. The Russian aircraft industry, represented by the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), followed the global trends although its production output was disparately smaller compared to the global leaders.
In 2009 the Russian manufacturers delivered 15 airliners representing however a significant growth compared to 9 aircraft delivered in 2008. At the same time the last year’s deliveries are the highest for at least a decade when the local industry didn’t produced more than a dozen of airplanes. Nevertheless UAC didn’t managed to reach its own planned results – in the beginning of 2009 the corporation promised to roll out 20 commercial airliners.
In contrast with several previous years, most of the aircraft assembled in 2009 were handed over to the domestic carriers. The industry also started the deliveries of some new aircraft types. Thus the first three new Ilyushin Il-96-400 freighters were handed over to Polet airlines while St. Petersburg-based Rossiya received the first two Antonov An-148 regional jets assembled in Russia.

Production of commercial aircraft in Russia, 2005-2008
Aircraft type
Il-96 family
Tu-204 family
Source: Agency for Industry, Ministry of Industry and Trade, manufacturers
Besides, Rossiya has got one Ilyushin Il-96 widebody aircraft in VIP configuration to carry the top government officials. Red Wings charter carrier has received the last two ordered Tupolev Tu-204-100B narrow body airliners while one Tu-214 long range aircraft was delivered to Transaero. VTB-Leasing company received another VIP airliner – Tu-204-300 while two Tu-214SR radio relay aircraft were delivered to Kremlin’s property department. Two Tu-204s went for export – they were delivered to Cuba’s Cubana de Aviacion and the North Korean airline Air Koryo. Samara-based Avaikor that is not controlled by UAC, supplied one An-140 turboprop to Yakutia airlines.
Unlike the foreign manufacturers, UAC didn’t reveal the volume of annually received orders. But its leasing subsidiary, Ilyushin Finance Co., reported that by the end of 2009 its total order book amounted to 128 aircraft including Il-96, Tu-204 and An-148. 60 aircraft out of the total number should be delivered in 2010-2012. Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC), also controlled by UAC, has about 120 orders for its Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional jet.
This year the Russian aircraft manufacturers are likely to face the same problems as their foreign colleagues. The demand for the new airliners from the domestic air carriers will continue to be low. According to UAC president Alexey Fyodorov, due to financial difficulties the most of the carriers can’t afford to place orders for new aircraft, so the production capacities of the corporation exceed the demand for the first time in the last years.
Under the current production plan UAC expects to roll out 33 commercial aircraft this year. According to Ilyushin Finance’s plans, the main focus in this year’s deliveries will be on An-148 jet. Besides the launch customer, Rossiya, another Russian carrier – Moscow-based Atlant-Soyuz – should also start to receive these new regional jets.
Another new product that can increase the UAC production results this year is Sukhoi Superjet 100. Sukhoi Civil Aircraft rolled out three test prototypes in 2009, but the beginning of the deliveries slipped to this year due to production problems. According to SCAC, the program is hindered by the engine supplier, Rybinsk-based NPO Saturn that develops SaM146  powerplant in cooperation with French Snecma. Due to the delays with the SaM146 deliveries SCAC had to equip the fourth Superjet prototype that joined the certification program in February, with the engines from the first test aircraft that has already completed its part of the trials.
Nevertheless, SCAC representative told Russia & CIS Observer that Superjet 100 should receive the Russian type certification in June-July this year. According to SCAC president Vladimir Prisyazhnyuk, the certification under EASA standards is expected to be completed in October.
NPO Saturn also seems to try to catch up with the deadlines. In February NPO Saturn CEO Ilya Fyodorov announced that SaM146 has already completed 90% of certification trials and is expected to get a certificate in May. He promised to supply the engines for the first serial Superjet 100 in June-July. By the end of the year NPO Saturn plans to deliver 12-13 engines to SCAC and increase the production up to 33 engines in 2011.
According to SCAC, if the aircraft and its engine meet the certification deadlines, the first three Superjet 100s will be delivered to the launch customers: Russian Aeroflot and Armenian Armavia carriers, at the end of 2010. Prisyazhnyuk mentioned that SCAC production facility in Komsomolsk-on-Amur already has 20 serial aircraft on its assembly line.
In the medium range class UAC hopes to promote modernized Tu-204SM airliner. The modernization program includes the replacement of the aircraft’s Perm PS-90A engines with the PS-90A2 variant with a modernized hot section and a new control system. Compared with the basic version, the PS-90A2 will have 35% cheaper life-time operational costs, 50% better reliability, improved efficiency, lower noise and emissions. The modernized aircraft will have a two-member crew and a new navigation system that will enable it to land under ICAO Category IIIa conditions, a new communication system and a digital air conditioning system.
PS-90A2 engine has been received Russian certificate in January 2010. Tu-204SM will be assembled at Ulyanovsk-based Aviastar-SP plant that has already started production of the first prototype. It should have been certified this year while the deliveries to the first customer Iran Air Tour carrier, which has already placed five orders for the type, are expected to start in 2011.
Despite the fact that since 2015 UAC plans to start the production of the new MS-21 medium range airliner, the assembly of Tu-204SM is expected to continue along with it. UAC head Alexey Fyodorov mentioned earlier that "the Tu-204 family will be produced in Ulyanovsk for as long as it is demanded on the market".
As for the helicopter sector, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, in 2009 the Russian manufacturers rolled out 141 rotorcraft, including one Mi-26 heavy lifter, 130 Mi-8/Mi-17 family, 4 Ka-226 light helicopters and 6 Ansat-U trainers. This result doesn’t include the attack helicopters, so it can be compared with the last year result when the sector produced 169 rotorcraft in total. Nevertheless, the manufacturers managed to increase the production of the most popular Mi-8/Mi-17 family – in 2008 the industry assembled only 114 helicopters of this type.
In contrast with manufacturers of the fixed-wing aircraft, the helicopter sector seems to rely on export deliveries. At least the major assembly facilities like Ulan-Ude Aviation plant and Kazan Helicopters reported the sharp increase of export production that certainly includes the deliveries mainly to military customers.   

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