Russia’s Irkut growing as product line diversifies

 - July 16, 2008, 9:27 AM

Boasting an order book amounting to $4.6 billion, Russia’s Irkut Corporation reported here at Farnborough profits of $165 million on revenues that exceeded $1.3 billion last year. The total is three times more than the net profit it registered in 2006, according to Oleg Demchenko, president of the Irkut Corporation. He also announced that Irkut held a 15 percent share of Russia’s arms exports in 2007.

Although the company’s main manufacturing facility located at Irkutsk dates back to 1932, a new chapter opened in 2004 when it placed some 23 percent of its shares on the open stock market. Two years later the Irkut Corporation became part of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation, subsequently taking a majority holding.

Today, Irkut has a varied range of successful designs in production and is developing a new family of airliners intended to replace the widely used Tupolev Tu-154. But it is the Sukhoi Su-30MK that remains the corporation’s biggest revenue earner, having gained export orders from Malaysia, India and Algeria for a total of around 300. The value of the orders amounts to $5 billion but the company carries options for several dozen more aircraft. Over 100 Su-MKI fighters have been delivered to the Indian air force including some assembled under license. But the latest model to be developed is the Su-30MKM, deliveries of which have begun to the Royal Malaysian Air Force.

Algeria is the third export customer for the Su-30 and will receive examples tailored to the needs of its air force, for delivery along with Yak-130 advanced jet trainers.
By contrast, Irkut is offering the Beriev Be-200 multi-role amphibian for such tasks as fire-fighting, search and rescue, ocean patrol, pollution control and transport. In service with the Russian Ministry for emergencies, the Be-200 has secured its first export order from Azerbaijan for a similar role.

Looking ahead to the next decade, development of the MC-21 short- to mid-range airliner family brings together Irkut and Yakovlev and is aimed at replacing aging A320 and B737 airliners. To be produced in 150-, 181- and 212-passenger versions, the MC-21 will make extensive use of composite materials.

Present plans call for the new aircraft’s wings, tail and fin to be produced from composites, but the company is considering also using such materials in the fuselage.

Compared to the A320, the MC-21 would burn 25 percent less fuel, offer a 15 percent savings in operating costs and weigh about 15 percent less. The company expects development of the MC-21 will cost some $6 billion, much of which will come from government sources.