MAKS Showcases Demand for Non-Western Equipment

 - August 31, 2009, 9:11 AM
Photo by Vladimir Karnozov

The global recession didn’t seem to suppress the appetite for new equipment among customers of Russia and the former Soviet Union at this month’s MAKS’2009 airshow in Moscow, where a number of programs, new and established, drew a surprising level of interest from buyers from around the globe. In fact, even as Russia’s plans for resurgence in the civil realm center on such regional aircraft programs as the Sukhoi Superjet 100 and Antonov An-148, manufacturers of bigger iron enjoyed a particularly upbeat show, as programs such as the 210-seat Tu-204 saw its fortunes surge with the likes of a firm lease contract awarded to Ilyushin Finance (IFC) by Atlant-Soyuz for 15 airplanes. All told, the Tu-204 drew firm orders, confirmations of interest and letters of intent for close to 40 airplanes, one of which could involve a financial package from IFC for a Tu-204-100 for North Korea’s Air Koryo. Others involved possible deals for a pair of second-hand Tu-204 freighters for Syrian Air, while Iran’s delegation confirmed government funding for Iran Airtour’s firm order for five Tu-204SM airliners. If the parties execute deliveries on time–by 2011–an option for 25 more airplanes would automatically take effect.

While at MAKS’2009, the Iranian delegation received an official offer involving the Sukhoi Superjet 100 from Sukhoi via Russian minister of transport Igor Levitin. The offer came as a surprise because the SSJ100 uses many U.S. and EU components and technologies barred from transfer by an embargo against high-tech trade with Iran. 

While Superjet International didn’t generate new sales at MAKS, it did sign an agreement with Aeroplex of Hungary that added the Budapest-based maintenance specialist to the SSJ100 support network. Superjet International–not Sukhoi Civil Aircraft–signed agreements with Aeroflot and ArmAvia to render “Super Care” services to the SSJ100 launch customers.

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft itself signed an agreement with VEB and VTB banks on funding packages for 10 Aeroflot SSJ100s due for delivery by 2011. Two SSJ100s are due to enter service with Aeroflot in November and December this year, and Sukhoi has promised one airframe to ArmAvia by December. Three SSJ100 operable prototypes had logged 800 hours in 300 flights by the start of the show. Plans call for a fourth prototype to fly in November, which has raised questions about how Sukhoi would actually manage any deliveries to airlines this year.

While the Superjet program saw plenty of ancillary activity outside the sales arena, the commercial star of the show would prove to be its Ukraine-designed rival, the Antonov An-148 regional jet. The 70- to 80-seat high-wing RJ, assembled by VASO in Russia and Aviant in Ukraine, drew a confirmation of an IFC lease deal with Atlant-Soyuz involving 30 airplanes, including 15 An-148-100E passenger jets with extended range, 10 An-148-200 stretch variants and five executive versions known as the Antonov Business Jet. IFC, which acts as the main sales vehicle for Russia’s United Aircraft (UAC), also won a commitment from Saratov Airlines involving An-148-100B/Es, for delivery in 2011-2012, and firm order from Vladivostok Avia for four An-148-100/200s, due for delivery between 2012 and 2014.

Meanwhile, St. Petersburg-based GTK Rossiya expects six An-148Bs this year and next, and six more in 2011. Rossiya expects to take delivery in September of RA-61701, the first Russian-built An-148. It was exhibited at MAKS’2009. It plans for a second An-148-100B in October, a third in December and fourth at the turn of the year. Polet and Moskovia, each with orders for 10 An-148-100Bs, expect deliveries from 2010 to 2012.

The signing at MAKS’2009 of an agreement between VEB (VneshEconomBank) and IFC on funding 70 An-148 financial lease packages for airline customers secured those deals. IFC hopes to sell 400 An-148s, half outside the former Soviet Union. This year VASO promises to deliver four aircraft, seven in 2010, 14 in 2011, 20 in 2012 and then 36 annually.