Posts Tagged “Russia”

Aeroflot places $5bn order for 50 MC-21s

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Aeroflot ordered 50 MC-21s today from IRKUT.  Aeroflot will receive the first jet in the first quarter of 2020, with the full delivery to be completed by 2026.  Under the terms of the order, Rostec, the leasing subsidiary of Aviacapital-Service, will supply the 50 MC-21-300s. These aircraft are to be leased for a term of 12 years, with the option of two-year extensions on the lease no more than three times.

RT reports that the first 25 MC-21s delivered to Aeroflot will have Pratt & Whitney PW1400G engines.  At this stage, we do not know if the remaining aircraft will be equipped with the PD-14 engines, due to be certified later this year.

Aeroflot plans to use the MC-21s to replace its remaining Soviet-era Yakovlev Yak-42, Tupolev Tu-134, Tupolev Tu-154, and Tupolev Tu-204/214 aircraft.  Aeroflot configurations are to carry 169 passengers, with 16 business-class and 153 economy-class seats.  The airline will be using the aircraft on domestic and international routes.

From discussions with IRKUT, we expect to see the MC-21 to offer operating costs around 6-7% lower than its competitors.  Which is a very interesting and exciting data point, numbers which we are in the process of verifying.  Every OEM that has deployed the GTF has seen fuel burn lower than expected and a consequent increase in range.  We expect the same to happen with MC-21.

Vitaly Saveliev, Aeroflot CEO, said: “The signing of a firm order for 50 MC-21 aircraft is a landmark event not just for our two companies, but for our country. Russian manufacturers have created the first next-generation passenger aircraft, marking Russia’s return as a global leader in the aviation industry.  In today’s geopolitical context we believe it is essential that there is competitive Russian-made technology, and that it is of the highest quality and competitively priced.  For this reason, our partnership with Rostec, our largest partner and a shareholder of Aeroflot, is of critical importance.”

Sergey Chemezov, Rostec CEO, said: “This agreement underscores that Russia’s civil aviation industry is making a comeback and taking its place among leading global manufacturers. The MC-21 represents a genuine breakthrough achievement for the aviation industry.  The aircraft uses cutting-edge materials and the latest generation of systems, created by leading Russian companies. Elements of the MC-21 that Rostec produces include titanium and composite parts, onboard electronics, chassis components, other systems, and the ‘heart’ of the aircraft – the PD-14 engine.  We believe that this engine will be selected by Aeroflot as the primary power plant for the MC-21.”

This is a program to watch.  Hopefully, we will see the flight test aircraft Farnborough this year.

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Russia and Ukraine to start discussing the AN-124’s future

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[UPDATE – Antonov will support Russia’s AN-124 fleet]

News from both Ukraine and Russia indicate the two countries are possibly going to start talking about the AN-124.   Both sides need to do this because the AN-124 is a product of the Soviet era.  The current political abyss that the two nations find themselves staring across does not help either side with respect to solving the AN-124’s unique capabilities.  And it’s capabilities are impressive.

Russia has a dozen AN-124s in service where Volga Dnepr is the big user.  On the Ukraine side, we have Antonov Airlines with seven aircraft.  Both these fleets find a lot of work moving extra heavy cargo all over the world.  The AN-124 is unique in commercial cargo service. The big engine makers need them to move engines to the aircraft OEMs.  Given the demand for the Airbus neo program, there is an AN-124 in Hartford regularly.  We saw two parked in Detroit waiting for the next call.

Both sides in the embroglio thought they could go their own way.  Antonov (Ukraine) is the certificate holder of the AN-124 and requires flight worthiness checks every 4,000 flight hours.  The Russians were not going to send any of their aircraft to Kiev for this.  Indeed one Volga Dnepr airframe went to the UK (Marshall Aerospace) for maintenance and other work, details of which have never been made public.   Antonov was challenged by the Russians for the transfer of its certificate rights for maintenance of the aircraft to Russia’s Ilyushin Aviation Complex. While the airframe and engines are Ukrainian, the flight deck and systems are all Russian.  Indeed we have heard from Volga Dnepr that without the Russian inputs the AN-124 could not fly.  The impasse between the two sides is entirely political and, frankly, shortsighted.

In the Soviet era, work on aerospace projects was spread over various facilities across the system.  This gave everyone a share and stake and kept thousands of skilled people at work.  Economics was not a consideration.  The collapse of the Soviet Union brought overnight change, with economic reality immediately becoming the primary consideration.  The impact was brutal to those thousands of people in Soviet aerospace jobs.  Russia moved to combine its aerospace assets in UAC and UEC.  Ukraine only had Antonov and its engine maker.  There was not enough work to keep the Ukraine side busy. Antonov started an airline to employ its assets.  Recently it even refurbished an AN-22 which is now based in Leipzig, Germany for cargo charters.  Here you can see it, unpainted, on a test flight.

For both commercial operators, some sort of collaboration is essential.  Politics must get out of the way.  If the two sides can sort this out, the current AN-124 fleet can be refreshed.  Antonov started to work on an update in June 2007 and got an updated certificate for the AN-124-150.  Tweaked engine work continues.  Russia has the bigger fleet and possibly the greater financial clout to move the project forward.  Will the Ukraine allow this to move forward?  Antonov told us they have 14,000 skilled people in Kiev that are under-employed.  The solution is staring both sides in the face.

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Rostec and AECC CAE agree on development of an engine for a long-range wide-body aircraft (LRWBA/C929)

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Rostec reports today: “The United Engine Corporation (UEC, part of Rostec State Corporation), as part of Aviation Expo China 2017, has signed a memorandum with the Chinese company AECC Commercial Aircraft Engine Co., Ltd. (AECC CAE). The Memorandum determines the objectives and main principles of interaction in the joint development of a gas turbine engine for a prospective long range wide-body aircraft (LRWBA/C929).

Under the Memorandum, the primary objectives of the program for creating an engine for the LRWBA will include engaging in joint research and competitive analysis, defining the potential customers’ requirements to the engine, forming the appearance of the engine, and determining its basic technical parameters.”

UEC previously started to develop a high-thrust civil engine (PD-35) for prospective wide-body long-haul aircraft. There is currently research and development groundwork under way under the PD-35 program in order to bring the degree of its development up to level 6 that will allow implementing research and development work as a whole with minimal technical risk. During the implementation of the PD-35 project, the scientific and technical groundwork carried out during the development of the new Russian PD-14 engine for aircraft MS-21-300 will be widely used.

AECC CAE is part of the Aero Engine Corporation of China, created in 2016, and is engaged in the development, manufacture and maintenance of civil gas turbine engines.

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Frigate Ecojet swims upstream

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In a world moving towards big twins, Russia’s Frigate has decided to move to quad power.   As Alexader Klimov, Frigate project leader, suggests, speed to market is the prime mover in the decision.  He says there are no engines of the size he wants to keep the aircraft a twin.  The thrust he requires ranges from 40K to 50K.

Here is a rendering of what the quad Ecojet might look like.

Intriguingly, Klimov’s vision of the aircraft closely resembles the purported 797.   The Ecojet is going to be a contender for the MoM.  Which means a high-risk profile for Frigate.  Currently, Airbus is cleaning up in this segment, without a real competitor.  Boeing is still mulling its next move in this segment, which it originally identified and then owned with the 757 and 767.

Perhaps it is time for Frigate to look east?  China wants to reduce dependence on western OEMs and is funding a number of projects with Russian origins.

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IRKUT gets an important financial tool

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One of the concerns we have had about the success of the MC-21 program has been customer financial support.  We are confident the program will achieve its technical goals.  But a crucial tool for an OEM is to have a source of customer finance.  Boeing has proven the value of the ExIm Bank and wants that facility back as quickly as they can get it.  Airbus, Bombardier, and Embraer have these type of facilities as well.

It is good news then to see that IRKUT signed a deal with Russia’s Sberbank.  As the IRKUT PR noted, “Since 2012, Sberbank has been the main financial partner in the development and production of the newest medium-range MC-21 airliner. The amount of credit resources provided to the project is about 1 billion US dollars.” Sberbank operates in 22 countries.  The bank is essential state owned (50%+1 voting share).  The implication is that the full backing of the Central Bank of the Russian Federation is behind Sberbank.  IRKUT has the kind of backing that gives it financial critical mass.

Most importantly, potential customers can now consider Sberbank as the ultimate source of capital for acquiring MC-21s.  With Sberbank operatons in 22 countries, IRKUT’s sales team can increase its reach to pitch the MC-21 in all 22 locations.  As the MC-21 moves through its flight test regime and reaches EIS, IRKUT has the credit facilities to offer customers.  This is a valuable financial tool for IRKUT and probably a good source of non-rouble revenue for the bank.

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Premium – Aeroflot Fleet Review

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Continuing our fleet review series, today we look at Aeroflot.  The company has gone through various iterations, lie so many others.  Its roots go back to 1923.  During the Soviet era, this was the world's largest airline.  Offering flights across the Soviet Union and abroad. Its domestic service had very low fares and huge traffic.  In 1966 it carried over 47m passengers.  It was the first airline to use jets in regular service in 1956. It was also the first airline to operate a regional jet in 1968 (Yak-40).

But the post-Soviet era came with big shocks as Russia, the CIS and, consequently, Aeroflot had to adjust.

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