Exclusive – Russia aims to fly alone without Airbus and Boeing

Exclusive – Russia aims to fly alone without Airbus and Boeing


By Gleb Stolyarov

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s aviation industry will go it alone without the West by using locally built parts to produce 1,000 planes by 2030 and ending dependence on Boeing (NYSE) and Airbus, state-owned engineer Rostec said.

The statements from Rostec, a huge state corporation headed by a close ally of President Vladimir Putin that includes Russia’s sole manufacturer of civilian aircraft, are the strongest indication yet that the country’s aviation sector sees the standoff with the West as a permanent rift.

The West’s imposition of the toughest sanctions in modern history after Moscow sent thousands of soldiers to Ukraine brought the biggest change to the Russian economy since the collapse of the Soviet Union from 1989 to 1991.

Post-Soviet assumptions of the aviation sector have been turned upside down: foreign planes, especially from Boeing and Airbus, account for 95% of passenger traffic, but sanctions mean that there are no spare parts – and there is no prospect of any.

Reuters reported in August that Russian airlines, including state-controlled Aeroflot, are stripping their planes to secure parts they can no longer buy abroad due to Western sanctions.

But Rostec, headed by Sergei Chemezov who worked with Putin in East Germany in the 1980s, sees the turmoil as an opportunity to build a strong, self-reliant aviation industry.

“Foreign aircraft will be withdrawn from the fleet,” Rostec said in a written response to questions to Reuters about its plans and the situation in the Russian aviation industry.

“We believe that this process is irreversible and that Boeing and Airbus planes will not be delivered to Russia,” she added.

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Rostec has managed some of Russia’s major industrial, defense and engineering assets since Putin signed a decree creating the company in 2007.

Russian airlines, including Aeroflot, have flaunted Boeing and Airbus jets as they seek to rebuild their fleets after the chaos of the 1990s. It would be difficult to find a competitive domestic alternative.

The goal of building 1,000 aircraft by 2030 is “essentially impossible,” according to aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia, managing director of US-based consultancy AeroDynamic.

“Even when they were able to source semiconductors and other vital components from the West, they were having a very difficult time producing more than a handful of aircraft,” he said.

Compared to the new seven-year goal, he added, Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union had only built 2,000 large commercial aircraft.

When it comes to modern aircraft, Russia’s only civilian aircraft manufacturer, Rostec’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), is limited by a lack of models, manufacturing capacity, and foreign components.

Half of the components and technologies used in the Russian aircraft industry in 2021 originated from foreign countries, according to a document entitled: “On strategic directions of activity in new conditions for the period up to 2030” prepared by the government and seen by Reuters. .

Rostec will have to find replacement parts – or make them.

“Our next goal, in the shortest time, is to complete the import substitution of imported parts delivered from abroad, for promising aviation projects – SSJ-New and MS-21,” said Rostik.

Made in Russia

Russia plans to produce 20 all-import replacement regional Superjet-New aircraft annually from 2024 and 72 new medium-range MS-21 aircraft from 2029, starting with six in 2024, according to the plan to develop the Russian aviation industry until 2030, published by the government in June.

Russia is testing its new MS-21 aircraft with a homemade PD-14 engine instead of the US-made PW1400G, supplied by Pratt & Whitney.

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The MS-21 was a Russian attempt to break into the main part of the aircraft market dominated by Airbus and Boeing.

But it is struggling to replace the foreign components of the Superjet, including the SaM-146 engine designed by a joint venture with the French engine company. saffron (EPA 🙂 And it can no longer be produced due to sanctions.

Rostec said that UAC continues to produce Superjets with the SaM-146 out of stock and will deliver about 20 more aircraft with this engine.

“It will be the last solution in which our partners’ solutions will be used with Safran. Then we will install PD-8 engines on this type of aircraft,” Rostik said. PD-8 engines are also made in Russia.

“Starting this year, we do not count on international cooperation with Western countries,” Rostik said. “We can say with confidence that the MS-21 with American-made engines will not be delivered to the Russian market.”

From 2022 to 2030, Russia plans to deliver 1,036 passenger aircraft. That includes 142 new Superjet and 270 MS21s, as well as 70 indigenously built L-114 turboprops, 70 Tu-214 medium-range and 12 indigenously designed wide-body Il-96s, according to for government documents.

“We do not expect sanctions relief and we base our plans on the current difficult scenario,” Rostik said.

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