Russian Airframe Output Falls Woefully Short of Targets

 - January 14, 2013, 9:50 AM
UAC boss Mikhail Pogosyan reported deliveries of “about 20” airplanes by Russian manufacturers last year. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

Despite realignment, increased government investment and the appearance of political resolve, the Russian airliner industry has achieved little success in expanding its civil production over the past four years. Although it has nearly doubled its delivery total, from 11 jetliners in 2009, to 10 in 2010, 18 in 2011 and 19 in 2012, the industry’s hopes to launch a challenge to the Western world’s manufacturing powers remain unfulfilled and distant.

Last year’s deliveries include examples of the Antonov An-148 and An-140, Ilyushin Il-96, Sukhoi Superjet 100 and Tupolev Tu-154/204/214 with passenger and VIP cabins, as well as special-purpose derivatives and prototypes for flight-testing. United Aircraft (UAC) pledged 36 jetliner deliveries in 2012, including 24 Superjets and nine An-148 regional jets. But at a press conference on New Year’s Eve in Moscow, UAC president Mikhail Pogosyan could report the completion of just 23 civilian aircraft, apparently including three Antonov An-140 turboprops built by non-UAC subsidiary Aviacor, and “about twenty” deliveries.

The UAC-controlled VASO plant in Voronezh produced one Il-96 quad-jet for governmental use and delivered three An-148s to Ilyushin Finance, which subsequently sent them to lessee Angara Airlines between the start of October and the end of December. Ulianovsk-based Aviastar-SP did not produce any passenger jets in 2012, but delivered to the Russian government a pair of Tupolev Tu-204-300 twinjets built in 2011. Kazan’s KAPO produced two Tupolev Tu-214s in 2011 and one last year, all for governmental bodies. Samara’s Aviacor delivered two An-140s and two Tu-154Ms to the Defense Ministry. The third An-140 remains with Aviacor. Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC) produced a dozen Superjets at the KnAAPO plant in Komsomolsk-Upon-Amur, but delivered only eight to airline customers. Meanwhile, Aeroflot alone expected between 10 and 14, and planned pilot training for that many, chief pilot Igor Chalik told AIN in May. SCAC managed only four deliveries to the Russian flag carrier in 2011 and six in 2012, and as of this month Aeroflot had performed just 8,500 revenue flights with the regional jets.

The Superjet’s first operator, Armenian flag carrier Armavia, took S/N 95007 in April 2011 and performed 930 revenue flights before returning the airplane to the manufacturer for maintenance. The Armenian airline refused to accept the return of S/N 95007, and canceled delivery of its second Superjet–S/N 9502–due to a contract dispute. Both airplanes met the New Year sitting at the SCAC base in Zhukovsky while Sukhoi prepared them for Interjet of Mexico.

After a three-month pause, SCAC delivered S/N 95019 to Yakutia on December 18. The airline did not accept S/N 95020 as expected by year-end, however. Sky Aviation of Indonesia signed an act of acceptance for S/N 95022 on December 29, but delivery of S/N 95026 to Lao Central Airlines slipped into this year. SCAC shareholder and industrial partner Superjet International received one “green” Superjet, S/N 95023, for interior installation at the Venice center before planned delivery to Interjet in March. SJI expected S/N 95024 to arrive in Venice before the end of last year, but it remains in Russia.