Feb 24, 2021
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Boeing doesn’t belong here

Despite criticism from the liberal public, the Russian aviation industry has risen from the ashes. New models of all types of aircraft are ready to soar into the Russian sky in the next few years. Serious problems are not visible: testing and production of the liners are going according to plan.

The United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) is preparing to merge aviation design bureaus and program directorates. Immediately rumors and opinions spread that the next optimization would not only be ineffective, but would also “finish off” the domestic aviation industry. True, it is not entirely clear what can be done there when the Russian aircraft industry is at the stage of its revival.

Russia is preparing for a real breakthrough in the aviation industry. For the first time since the times of the Soviet Union, we have a complete line of civil aviation aircraft ready. Yes, it did not come to serial production everywhere, but flight tests show that Russian projects have no fundamental problems.

Il-114-300, SSJ100, MS-21, Il-96-400,

– it is these models that will soon dominate the Russian sky, displacing Boeing and Airbus.

The criminal policies of the Russian liberal authorities of the 1990s seemed to have destroyed the domestic aviation industry. Nevertheless, in the middle of the 2000s, Vladimir Putin made a fundamental decision to revive the domestic aircraft industry. Of course, this initiative met with immediate criticism from the liberal public. “The aviation industry will gobble up a lot of money”, “It is more profitable to buy Boeings”, “We are not capable of making planes” – all these theses were constantly heard in the opposition media.

The domestic aviation industry received an additional portion of criticism after the release of the Sukhoi Superjet, which faced great difficulties. This includes service, problems with the SaM146 engine, and much more. However, there are two things to understand about the SSJ100.

First. The aircraft became the first Russian project in post-Soviet history. At the stage of the release of any model “into series” so-called “childhood diseases” of the aircraft inevitably arise. This is the case with Boeings and Airbuses. A striking example is the Boeing 737 MAX model, which, after the start of deliveries to customers, went for a year and a half revision.

Second. SSJ100 has been a project of broad international cooperation from the very beginning. Only a third of the Superjet’s components were Russian. The rest, including the engine, is foreign. It was understood that the SSJ100 would be operated by airlines around the world. And, of course, it is easier for them to order components from world companies, without waiting for the supply of parts from Russia. However, 2014 broke out, the geopolitical situation changed. Problems began with the supply of components, which, in turn, led to protracted servicing.

Nevertheless, by 2024, the share of domestic parts in SSJ100 will be brought to 97%. In fact, we will see a new aircraft consisting almost entirely of Russian components. The engine is of particular value here: instead of the French SaM146, the Russian PD-8 will be installed on the machines.

But even the updated SSJ100 is unlikely to be massively supplied to the world market. The reason lies in the narrow niche of short-haul aircraft with a capacity of up to 100 people.

Nevertheless, the medium-haul MS-21 is a direct competitor to the world’s most popular A320s and Boeing 737s.

A distinctive feature of the Russian airliner is the “black” wing made of composites. This significantly lightens the weight of the aircraft, which allows it to consume less fuel per passenger-kilometer. Initially, the composites for the wing were supposed to be imported, but after the imposition of sanctions, Rosatom enterprises began their own development of these components. Yes, the start of the serial production of the MC-21 was postponed for a year, but now the Russian machine does not depend on the whims of foreign “partners”. Already in 2024, it is planned to start production of 70-72 units of MS-21 per year.

The famous Ilys will also return to the Russian sky: the turboprop Il-114-300 and the long-haul Il-96-400. Of course, the niche of these models is not as huge as that of the MS-21, but for Russia these projects are no less important.

IL-114-300 is capable of carrying out transportation in remote regions of the country. It is unpretentious to use (can land both on a dirt surface and on a “snow” strip), and also very economical to operate. Russian-made turboprop engines make the cost per flight hour relatively low. In Russian conditions, this is especially important, since it will allow the formation of an affordable price for air tickets on those directions where there is no large passenger traffic.

IL-96-400 is the revival of the pride of the Soviet aircraft industry. The most powerful giant, capable of carrying under 400 passengers, will take off into the sky in the second half of the twenties. Unfortunately, due to the crisis of the 1990s, Russia missed out on the long-range aircraft revolution, when the aircraft began to be equipped with not four, but two engines. This has a significant impact on fuel economy and, consequently, on the cost of transportation.

The Il-96-400 is designed to level this technological gap. The black wing with two Russian PD-35 engines will bring the car to the level of competitors. Yes, as mentioned above, the long-haul niche is not that large, but aircraft of this type are the most technologically advanced and difficult to manufacture. All over the world wide-body aircraft are capable of producing only three concerns: Boeing, Airbus and our Ilyushin.

Thus, Russia is not only ready for a breakthrough in the aviation industry, but is close to a breakthrough that will give an important impetus to the development of the Russian high-tech industry.

One ruble in the aviation industry generates 10 rubles in related industries. Accordingly, it is difficult to underestimate this effect for the entire Russian economy.

Nikita Komarov

Photo: SSJ100 aircraft. Photo: UAC / Globallookpress

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