What to buy and what to produce: what to fly for domestic airlines

Published by
Peter Kavinsky

Photo by the Roscongress Foundation

How to solve the problems to provide airlines with all necessary equipment and full service? Is it possible to speed up the process of finding new aircraft parts suppliers? What state aid measures are needed to increase the capacity of our aircraft manufacturing companies, including the development of an aviation cluster in the Far East? And is full technological sovereignty possible? These issues were discussed within Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok during the session “The Future of Industries: What to Buy and What to Produce? aircraft industry”.

“SVOE” IS NOT JUST MOUNTING IN RUSSIA

Now Russian airlines have 1288 aircraft. Of these, 1218 are in the Russian register, that is, both the maintenance and supervision of this maintenance and its airworthiness are under the control of the Federal Air Transport Agency. This was announced during the session by the Deputy Minister of Transport Igor Chalik.

– The situation that existed until 2022 was suitable for everyone in the sense that manufacturers of the main aircraft types that were part of the fleet of Russian airlines took on many things and solved these problems faced by the airlines during operation. Now we’re all taking it upon ourselves,” he outlined the current situation, which of course now requires a change in approach.

– We have developed and supplied foreign systems, but cannot operate them. First, not because there is no component, but because the rights to this system generally do not belong to us, we do not know and have not received the mathematical models that led to these systems, we do not know the standards for materials and we don’t understand history with their strength, we just don’t have this knowledge base,” clarified Oleg Bocharov, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, one of the main issues.

According to him, ours is not where we made the aircraft ourselves, but “where we have a full set of information about standards, technologies, design documentation and a knowledge base.” According to the Secretary of State, the Ministry of Industry and Trade began such an approach to import substitution since 2017, when it became clear that “the aviation industry is becoming political history”. But much remains to be done, and in a time frame where no one has ever done such things.

NEED A WIDE RANGE

A comprehensive aviation industry development program was approved in June. By 2030, about 1036 domestic aircraft are to be produced, which will replace imported equipment.

Why so much?

– Practice, economics shows that the flight becomes economically profitable with a load of about 80%. Therefore, if the load is about 15 people, then an L-410 type aircraft is needed, and not a 100-seat Sukhoi Superjet. Therefore, a wide range of domestic passenger aircraft with different passenger capacities is needed, – explained Igor Chalik. – The announced plans are exactly the line that airlines need to make the financial-economic model positive and profitable.

As airline representatives told during the session, the biggest headache now lies with small planes – with small-capacity planes. They are particularly needed in the Far East, where several hundred settlements have been left without air service since the 1990s, causing very serious problems with transport accessibility in local conditions.

– Almost the entire segment of headache that we have is just in the segment of this capillary network (local flights. – Ed.), – said the general manager of JSC “Aurora Airlines” Konstantin Sukhorebrik. – Flights from Moscow to Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Magadan, Kamchatka – today, in my opinion, the problem with them is practically solved: good reasonable rates, high frequency, good demand. But with regard to the local regional transport segment, the situation is different here.

There are also problems with helicopters.

– The helicopter fleet in Russia is becoming obsolete, about 80% of the entire fleet consists of helicopters over 25 years old, which means that in the short term about 50 helicopters will fail by 2030, – said the general manager of Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant JSC Alexey Kozlov. – But the capabilities that the company has achieved for the production of helicopters, in principle, are ready to meet this need.

OLD RELATIONSHIPS MUST BE RESTORED

– When we say what to do: buy or produce, we believe that it is necessary to make the most of the potential we have in the Eurasian Union, the potential of the EEC Member States, and thus reduce the risks of the stopping the supply of critically important imported components from unfriendly countries, – said during the session, the director of the Industrial Policy Department of the Eurasian Economic Commission Nikolai Kushnarev.

He recalled that in response to the proposal of the President of the Russian Federation to his colleagues from the EEC to establish cooperation in high-tech industries, the governments of the Member States have already issued a corresponding instruction. And at the level of prime ministers, heads of government in 2021, a roadmap has been established to intensify cooperation in the field of aircraft manufacturing.

– In fact, we are starting to restore the Soviet Union’s cooperative connection again, because all the factories have survived, and we understand that where we have technological sovereignty in terms of knowledge, design documentation, standards, we are building quite calmly new cooperation, because we understand that it is effective for us, – believes Oleg Bocharov.

Peter Kavinsky

Peter Kavinsky is the Executive Editor at cablefreetv.org

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