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Revival of the civil aviation industry in Russia

Revival of the civil aviation industry in Russia

The state of Russian civil aviation is bewildering, why on domestic and international lines there are entirely foreign-made aircraft. When at Sheremetyevo I see mainly Airbus and Boeing and occasionally flashing Russian "Superjet-100", the question arises, where are our domestic. I still remember well, how in the Soviet Union Aeroflot flew exclusively on domestic aircraft. In the field of military aviation, we remain one of the world leaders, what can not be said about the civil.

The quantity and quality of aviation is determined by the state of the aviation industry. What was the Soviet aviation industry, which produced the entire line of civil aircraft? A powerful legacy left from the Soviet Union: up to a dozen design bureaus for the development of aircraft and helicopters, 17 serial aircraft manufacturing plants, four helicopter manufacturing plants, four pilot plants and dozens of factories for the production of components for aircraft, where hundreds of thousands of specialists worked.

surprisingly, but almost all of this has been preserved. Of 17 serial aircraft factories operate 13, in Russia only the Samara aircraft plant was barbarously destroyed. Antonov Design Bureau remains in Ukraine, at the Kiev and Kharkov aircraft factories stopped production of aircraft, and in Uzbekistan, the Tashkent aircraft plant was destroyed. Of 13 the remaining factories are two (Nizhny Novgorod and Novosibirsk) focused only on the production of military aviation. The entire design and production base of the aviation industry for the development and production of aircraft and helicopters has been preserved. Major factories undergo modernization and re-equipment, new factories for the production of materials and components are launched ... But there are no new aircraft.

We'll see, how seriously the loss of four factories and one design bureau affected the production of aircraft. Samara aircraft plant worked with Yakovlev Design Bureau, released 1 012 Yak-40 aircraft and 187 Yak-42. Kiev aircraft plant worked with Antonov Design Bureau, released 3 320 small aircraft An-2, 1 028 passenger An-24, 1 042 transport An-26, 18 heavy transport An-124 "Ruslan". Kharkov aircraft plant worked with Tupolev Design Bureau, began to produce the first jet Tu-104 and then released 854 Tu-134. Tashkent aircraft plant worked with Antonov and Ilyushin design bureaus, released 830 transport An-12, 66 An-22 and almost all of 956 serial IL-76, production of the IL-114 also began here.

From here it can be seen, that the aviation industry suffered the most serious losses in the aircraft of local airlines (An-24 and Yak-40) and short-haul (Tu-134 and Yak-42), as well as transport aviation (An-26, IL-76, AN-124). These losses are still not replenished.

A line of aircraft remained from the Soviet aviation industry, covering all niches of civil aviation: small aircraft An-2 ("Corn"), local airlines An-24 and Yak-40, short-haul Tu-134 and Yak-42, medium-haul Tu-154 and Il-86, long-haul Il-62 and Il-96.

At that time, passenger aircraft met the requirements imposed on them and were not much inferior to foreign ones.:

- An-2 was designed for 12 passengers and range 990 km, at the Kiev and Dolgoprudny aircraft factories, in Poland and China more than 18 000 aircraft;

- An-24 is designed for 52 passenger and range 1 800 km, in Kiev, Irkutsk and Ulan-Uda aircraft factories produced 1 367 aircraft;

- Yak-40 is designed for 40 passengers and range 820 km, at the Saratov aircraft plant was produced 1 012 aircraft;

- Tu-134 is designed for 80 passengers and range 2 100 km, at the Kharkov aircraft plant was produced 854 Aircraft;

- Yak-42 is designed for 120 passengers and range 2 800 km, at the Saratov and Smolensk aircraft factories were produced 187 aircraft;

- Tu-154 is designed for 180 passengers and range 3 900 km, at the Samara aircraft plant was produced 923 Aircraft;

- Il-86, wide-body, designed for 350 passengers and range 3 800 km, at the Voronezh aircraft plant was produced 106 aircraft;

- IL-62 is designed for 186 passengers and range 11 000 km, at the Kazan aircraft plant was produced 289 aircraft;

- IL-96, wide-body, designed for 435 passengers and range 9 000 km, at the Voronezh aircraft plant was built 31 aircraft.

The entire required line was also produced from transport aircraft.: light An-26 carrying capacity 5,5 tons, at the Kiev aircraft plant produced 1 398 aircraft; medium An-12 carrying capacity 21 ton - in Kiev, Irkutsk. Voronezh and Tashkent aircraft plants produced 1 248 aircraft, heavy IL-76 carrying capacity 60 tonnes, at the Tashkent and Ulyanovsk aircraft factories produced 956 aircraft and superheavy An-124 (Ruslan) carrying capacity 120 tonnes, at the Kiev and Voronezh aircraft factories produced 55 aircraft.

The Soviet Union in the 80s, at the peak of civil aircraft production, produced about 200 aircraft per year, Boeing then produced about 300 aircraft. Now Airbus and Boeing produce about 800 passenger aircraft per year, and the Russian aviation industry in 2020 graduated in total 20 aircraft. The difference is impressive, and the Russian aviation industry has something to strive for.

Over the years, the Russian aviation industry has produced about 450 aircraft, including 207 Superjet-100, 89 Tu-204, 31 IL-96, 33 Tu-214, 17 Was-200, 20 IL-114, to 10 Il-76MD-90A, 35 AN-148, 9 An-140, 5 MS-21.

An interesting situation is developing: there are aircraft designers and factories for their production, but there are no domestic aircraft on the airlines. Why is that? There are several reasons, which still stretch from the Soviet Union. By the end of the 80s, almost all lines of domestic aircraft began to become obsolete., in the world aircraft industry, the change of aircraft generations was approaching. In the Union, with a general collapse, they did not pay attention to this and continued to live on the old reserve. In the West, fierce competition forced to look for ways to create more economical aircraft, introduce new technologies for their production, and they succeeded.

The subsequent disintegration of the country further exacerbated the situation., the new government focused on integration with the West and their aviation technology, what happened over time. During the 90s, almost all Soviet aircraft were ousted not only from international, but also from domestic airlines. The government practically did not allocate funds for the development of aircraft. Aviation design bureaus khireli, and specialists from them slowly scattered. The developments of those years were not in demand by the aviation market and did not find their buyer, besides, there were no modern engines in Russia, without which it was impossible to launch a new generation of aircraft. Now in the Russian United Aircraft Corporation, the "optimizer" Anatoly Serdyukov has been appointed chairman of the board of directors, how much it will improve or worsen the management of the aviation industry, time will tell.

In the niche of short-haul liners instead of Tu-134 Tupolev KB in 1993 year, the Tu-334 project was proposed according to the concept of its predecessor on 102 passenger and range 3 150 km. In terms of its flight performance, the project did not fit into the requirements and was closed in the early 2000s..

Into this niche in 2000 year, the Sukhoi Design Bureau decided to fit in with the Superjet-100 aircraft project for 108 passengers and range 4 500 km. Leading foreign companies were involved in this project., the most advanced materials and components were used, including French engines, to 2011 the plane was created and certified.

According to its characteristics, it was at the level of the best world samples., launched into series and entered the international market. Operating experience has shown, that the manufacturer was unable to organize acceptable logistics for the supply of spare parts and maintenance of the aircraft. This caused criticism, and the plane began to lose customers, and with the introduction after 2014 years of US sanctions on the supply of components, the situation deteriorated sharply, and it turned out to be unclaimed in the market. Today "Superjet-100" is the only serially produced aircraft in Russia, but its release is falling, at 2018 year was made 24 Aircraft, at 2019 year - 19, and 2020 year in total 11.

Now the project is being intensively revised using Russian components and the Russian PD-8 engine., developed on the basis of the PD-14 engine, and 2023 year it is planned to certify the aircraft. A revised and demanded short-haul Russian liner should appear soon and fill this niche.

The Antonov Design Bureau tried to fit in here. 2001 year with the An-148 aircraft on 80 passengers and range 3 500 km. This project could be a good addition to the "Superjet-100" on domestic lines, since the aircraft of the Sukhoi Design Bureau set strict requirements for the runway, which is not possible everywhere, and the An-148 was unpretentious in this matter. Started serial production of the aircraft at the Voronezh aircraft plant at the request of Ukraine in 2018 year was stopped, and the plane ceased to exist.

In the most demanded niche of medium-haul liners, where the Tu-154 was in the lead, KB Tupolev 1989 year proposed its project Tu-204 / Tu-214 for 165-215 passengers and a range of 4200-5900 km. The tests that have begun have shown, that in terms of its operational characteristics the aircraft lags behind foreign counterparts, the funding cut by the state did not allow to radically change the design, as a result, the aircraft was launched into a series with no prospects to occupy its niche and replace the Tu-154. The aircraft is still produced one or two copies per year., decommissioned and used only by government agencies.

KB Yakovlev in 2008 year proposed its project of a medium-haul aircraft MS-21 on 210 passengers and range 6 000 km. The aircraft was developed using polymer composite materials and the Russian PD-14 engine, at 2017 the first flight has already taken place, to date, five prototypes of the aircraft have been manufactured. AT 2021 aircraft certification to be completed, and 2022 year serial production is planned with an exit to 2025 year for release 72 aircraft per year. In this niche MC-21 can become a serious competitor.

In the long-haul niche, the Soviet four-engine Il-62 and Il-96 were not competitors in terms of performance and required replacement. IL-96 made its first flight in 1988 year and has been serially produced since 1993 of the year, operated on commercial airlines, now decommissioned and used only in government agencies. The scheme of an aircraft with four engines is hopelessly outdated and is not used in new airliners.. Even such a favorite, like Boeing 747, proved to be uncompetitive and is planned to be phased out.

In the Russian design bureaus, there was no corresponding groundwork for this class of aircraft, besides, there was no required engine. AT 2014 year, the Russian UAC and the Chinese COMAC signed an agreement on the joint development and production of a Russian-Chinese long-range twin-engine CR929 aircraft for 250-300 passengers and a range 12 000 km. At the first stage, it is planned to use a General Electric or Rolls-Royce engine., and at the second stage, the Russian PD-35, worked out on the basis of PD-14. The first flight is planned for 2022 year, and the launch into serial production - in 2026–2027 with the release of 70 aircraft per year.

In the niche of local airlines, where the demand for aircraft instead of the obsolete An-24 is very high, there is nothing to produce yet. It was planned to replace the Il-114 with 64 man and range 1 900 km, developed in the late 80s, did not meet expectations and did not become a mass aircraft. Production was launched at the Tashkent aircraft plant, all were manufactured 20 aircraft and in 2012 discontinued due to the liquidation of the plant. The aircraft has been significantly redesigned, and in December 2020 the new Il-114-300 aircraft made its first flight, serial production of this aircraft is planned from 2023 of the year.

It should be noted, that not all the characteristics of the IL-114-300 meet the requirements, eg, it cannot take off from unpaved airfields due to its low wing and engines, besides, it is overloaded by three tons. In this regard, in 2003–2014 in Russia they tried to launch the production of the An-140, which does not have these drawbacks, at 52 passenger and range 2 300 km. Nine aircraft were manufactured at the Samara aircraft plant, but after the coup in Kiev in 2014 year all work was closed.

Since the UAC shows no interest in regional aircraft due to their low profitability, which led to the absence of aircraft of this class in the Russian aviation industry, at the Ural Civil Aviation Plant in 2020 year, the development of a regional aircraft to replace the An-24 began with its launch for testing in 2024 year and serial production in 2027 year.

In the niche of small aircraft, where An-2 continues to dominate, became the world record holder in terms of its production more than 70 years, the situation is even worse. There is nothing to replace him. Not in the USSR, nor in Russia was it given worthy attention to small aircraft, and a decent plane never appeared.

The attempt of the Siberian Research Institute of Aviation to create an aircraft to replace the An-2 ended in failure. The project of the all-composite biplane TVS-2DTS was rejected in 2019 year due to too heavy weight, massive use of imported components, including engine, as well as the high cost of the aircraft and its operation. The project of the LMS-901 aircraft was approved ("Baikal") development of the Ural Civil Aviation Plant (producing light Czech aircraft L-410) for nine passengers and range 3000 km. The first flight of the aircraft should take place in 2021 year with access to certification in 2022 year. At the first stage, imported components will be used in the aircraft, followed by replacement with Russian ones.. With the implementation of this project, Russia will finally have its own modern small aircraft.

Only the heavy Il-76 remained in the class of transport aircraft, for the production of which an automated assembly line is being introduced at the Ulyanovsk aircraft plant 18 aircraft per year. In the light class, an IL-112V with a carrying capacity is planned to replace the An-26 5 tons and range 1 200 km, having the disadvantages of the Il-114 due to the impossibility of using an unpaved runway. The plane made its first flight in 2019 year, and its serial production is planned from 2022 of the year. Joint Ukrainian-Russian development and production of An-70 heavy transport aircraft with payload capacity 47 tons and range up to 8 000 km, devoid of the above disadvantages, at 2014 year for political reasons was discontinued. Russia does not have its own super-heavy transport, attempts to jointly produce An-124 with Ukraine did not lead to anything.

As a result, we can note, that the Russian aviation industry has the necessary factories and specialists for the production of modern aircraft, but there are still no ready to launch mass production and able to compete in the air services market. The problem is the lack of development of promising aircraft. Russian promising aircraft of all classes are at the stage of completion of development, testing and certification, and only in the first half of the 20s they should be put into mass production. In the niche of small aircraft, this is "Baikal", regional aviation - Il-114-300, short-haul - "Superjet-100", medium-haul - MS-21, long-haul - СR929, in transport - Il-112V and Il-76MD-90A.

According to plans in 2021 year it is planned to produce only 30 aircraft, to 2024 year output may rise to 50 aircraft and only to 2030 - to 100 aircraft. To reach the Soviet level 200 machines per year, it is necessary to make serious efforts on new aircraft developments and their serial production.

Yuri Apukhtin,

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