Russian Interior Firms Seek Growing Completions Role
Russia’s aircraft interiors industry achieved 15-percent growth in revenue last year, much of it from work on business and private aircraft. According to the country’s Association of Aviation Interiors Companies (AKAI, to use its Russian acronym), its 17 members account for 90 percent of completions work for indigenously produced aircraft and collectively employ more than 1,000 skilled specialists. AKAI chairman Vitaly Romanyuk told AIN that he expects to see Russian firms expanding into the repair and renovation of interiors for growing numbers of imported aircraft.
The development, manufacturing and installation of new interiors account for approximately 60 percent of revenues for AKAI members, with 30 percent coming from producing spare parts and 10 percent from maintenance. “Today, AKAI represents a highly capable group with sufficient experience to provide a whole of interior package for any aircraft type, be it a passenger airliner, corporate or VIP jet,” said Romanyuk. “[AKAI members] work hand-in-hand so as to better fulfill comprehensive aircraft interior projects on time and to a high quality.”
Some of the biggest opportunities for AKAI members have come from providing interiors for government VIP transport and other special-missions aircraft. Last year its companies completed interior installation work on two Tupolev Tu-154s belonging to the Russian defense ministry and one Ilyushin Il-96-300PU-M1 widebody operated by the Special Air Detachment, which handles flights for Russian President Vladimir Putin and other senior government officials. Another area of work has been providing executive interiors for Mil Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters.
One beneficiary of this growth has been Russian interior specialist Kvand, which has boosted production of its seats, divans, cabin partitions and lighting systems. In 2010 it achieved 16-g crash survivability certification for its seats and now supplies them for Il-96s, Antonov An-148s, Tupolev Tu-204/214s and Mi-8/17s. Fellow seat specialist Aerostyle has also seen increased orders for its products.
Vemina-Aviaprestige, which holds EASA Part 21 and FAA Part 145 certificates, is leading AKAI’s efforts to break into the market for refitting Western business aircraft. It has expanded its operation to include facilities at all of the main Moscow-area airports, partly through new partnership agreements with the Avcom-D FBO at Domodedovo Airport and with VIP Port at Vnukovo Airport’s business aviation enclave.
AKAI wants to persuade more Russian aircraft owners to commission local companies to perform interior work rather than rely on the largely European firms that handle their maintenance checks. Sergei Davydov, executive director of Vemina-Aviaprestige, asserts that Russian companies can significantly undercut the costs of foreign competitors.
Russia’s interior specialists are now also setting their sights on Sukhoi’s new Superjet SSJ100 and on the Sukhoi Business Jet (SBJ) derived from the single-aisle airliner. They are also eyeing possible roles in VIP versions of the An-148 (the so-called Antonov Business Jet), as well as the longer-term Irkut-led MC-21 airliner development.
In the first instance, AKAI wants to break into the interior work for the SSJ100, some 90 percent of which is currently in the hands of foreign suppliers. “We have amassed sufficient experience on flight deck and passenger cabin [fittings], electrical power, oxygen, panels, seats, water and air conditioning,” said Davydov, that Russian airframers “now have no reason to look abroad for this equipment.”
Aerostyle has already become involved in manufacturing and installing cockpit interiors for the SSJ100. Vemina-Aviaprestige has also been indirectly involved as local support provider for Ipeco pilot seats and B/E Aerospace cabin interiors. Aerostyle general director Ilgiz Nafikov told AIN that AKAI has approached Sukhoi with a proposal to improve the cabin air distribution system in the SSJ100.
Comlux, the launch customer for the SBJ, will complete the interiors of the two aircraft it ordered. Beginning next year Sukhoi aims to deliver between four and six SBJs out of its annual production of 60 SSJ100s.
With Russian operators expected to be prominent among the early customers, AKAI believes there is a strong case for its members taking a leading role in the completions work. The association has made a proposal to Sukhoi to outfit Superjet Serial Number 95009, which is destined to become an SBJ demonstrator. The prepared design follows what AKAI calls “a BBJ approach” with modular sections of the cabin equipped in different ways. It believes that its members can match the quality of Superjet’s main interior supplier, Italy’s Pininfarina, and outbid it on price and delivery time.