Elimination Game

PHOTO by Tatiana Lystseva / RIA Novosti
Can the Russian aviation industry supply its own airlines?

Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin has set a goal of having domestic airlines use primarily Russian-made aircraft within ten to 15 years. To this end, the government is ready to take a number of measures, including special economic benefits associated with leasing aviation equipment.

This is not the first time that Rogozin has addressed this topic. In April 2016, he announced that the Russian aircraft industry was going to push out Boeing and Airbus long-haul planes from the local market. The fact that these airliners currently constitute up to 80% of the fleet for Russian aviation companies was “simply an intolerable situation,” the deputy prime minister said.

Wings of the Motherland

Formally, the Russian aviation industry offers products that are more or less suitable. However, no active import substitution in this direction has been observed so far.

The Superjet 100, the brainchild of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, has been successful in the Russian market. This aircraft was developed with the participation of foreign companies in the 2000s. In 2011, the first plane was put into operation. Over the next three years, more than 60 Superjets were delivered to customers.

There are also high hopes for the medium-range MS-21, which is expected to appear in three designs: the MS-21-200 (150 seats), the MS-21-300 (180 seats) and the MS-21-400 (212 seats). The creators are certain that their plane is not inferior to competitors from Boeing and Airbus.

The Ilyushin design bureau developed the turbo-prop IL-114 in the late 1980s for regional air routes in the USSR. According to sources, less than 20 aircraft of this type have been built.

The United Aircraft Corporation, or UAC, plans to produce at least 12 modernised IL-114-300 planes per year. At the end of January 2017, UAC CEO Yuri Slyusar expressed hopes that the modernised plane would make its first flight in 2019 and deliveries would begin in 2021.

School of Aerobatics

Experts recognise that the ambitious task of transitioning Russian airlines to domestic aircraft in ten or even 15 years is fraught with difficulties.

“[The IL-96 aircraft] are efficient planes that fly perfectly, but they are unfit for commercial traffic in civil aviation as they are too expensive,” said Artem Malkov, a partner at Strategy Partners Group.

Il 114
An Ilyushin-114 "Radar" airplane performs a demo flight at the MAKS 2015 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky outside Moscow

Mikhail Shchapov, a member of the State Duma Committee on Security and Combating Corruption, is convinced that the executive and legislative branches of power are obliged to take the necessary measures to revive the Russian aviation industry. “In the modern world, such industries as aircraft building and machine building certainly need protection from the state,” the parliamentarian stressed.

Shchapov said that the potential of the Russian aviation industry had been preserved primarily due to military orders. One way to encourage Russian companies to buy domestic aircraft is to increase duties on imported aircraft equipment, a tool used by many countries.

“Of course, any privilege creates a loss in budget revenue, and one must understand how to compensate for it,” Shchapov said. “The protection of public interests should not cause fatal damage to the companies or worsen the quality of service and endanger flight safety.”