When passengers first see the novelty of the domestic aviation industry - "Superjet", they often have a surprise. Why does a plane with a big name look so small? In the same Sheremetyevo, where “Superjet” can be found more often than at any other airport in the world, they are lost against the background of not only long-haul airliners, but also completely ordinary Airbus A320 and Boeing 737.
But the hype that accompanied the creation of Russia's first post-Soviet airliner, in our information age, set up future passengers at least for a competitor Airbus or Boeing, an aircraft that would reintroduce the country into an elite, very small club of manufacturers of modern passenger airliners.
Therefore, the new product is usually not compared with aircraft of the same class as it, not so frequent guests at our Embraer E-190 and Bombardier CRJ1000 airports, but with the familiar short-haul products of the giants of the American and European aviation industries. Fortunately, after the withering away of domestic technology, it was she who flooded our airports. Such a comparison initially puts the Russian aircraft in unequal conditions. First of all, RRJ, Russian Regional Jet, as it was called in the early years of its existence, did not reflect on it as the savior of the entire aviation industry of Russia or the competitor of Airbus. It was just an initiative project of the Sukhoi company, its second attempt to diversify its business into a civilian segment in anticipation of a drop in sales of its main products — fighters of the Su-27 family.
When at the very beginning of the two thousandths, the RRJ was just being thought about, the goal set — to create a demanded passenger aircraft from scratch — was bold and extremely ambitious for Sukhoi. Then he was a manufacturer of only combat aircraft and was in independent voyage. After 10 years within the framework of the United Aircraft Building Corporation (UAC), in which practically all the remnants of the country's aviation industry are consolidated, the project still looks ambitious, but not nearly as large. It is simply not capable of being a “motor” that pulls forward the united domestic aviation industry.
The niche chosen for RRJ is initially modest and not very prestigious - a jet regional plane for minor lines that do not provide loading for standard narrow-body short-haul airliners. Such regional planes are inferior to Airbus and Boeing products not only by their size, but usually also by convenience for passengers and crews. The global demand for them is small and now barely exceeds the mark of one hundred aircraft per year. For the first half of this year, airlines all over the world received only 50 vehicles of this class - from the Canadian Bombardier CRJ700 to the Brazilian Embraer E195. Another dozen provided aviation industries of Russia and Ukraine. For comparison: larger Airbus and Boeing aircraft in the same half a year were delivered around 600 units. The number of only one American "bestseller" Boeing 737-800 increased by 182 instance.
In terms of cost, the segment of large regionalists is also not impressive - over the past year, all of their deliveries earned four to five billion dollars, completely lost against the background of tens of billions of dollars earned by two aviation agents of the passenger aircraft industry. It is not surprising that they look at this segment and the producers of the so-called second echelon, working on it, are so indulgent that they are ready to help them with advice-others.
Even with the most ambitious plans to produce 70 "Superjet" per year with the current catalog price of 35 million dollars, the annual revenue of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (GSS) from their sale will be no more than two and a half billion dollars. In practice, airplanes are almost never sold at the catalog price. Discounts from it in 20 – 30 percent are the norm, so even a fully loaded company is unlikely to be able to earn at least two billion dollars a year.
With the seeming significance of this amount, it is no longer incredible for the domestic aviation industry. Total UAC revenue in 2012, when the entire 12 SSJ was produced, amounted to 171 billion rubles, which is more than five billion dollars. Of course, it was received not from the sale of GSS products, but mainly from the production of military aircraft both for export and for substantially increased state defense orders. Only slightly less than 126 billion rubles earned in 2012-m "Helicopters of Russia". The United Engine Corporation, which focuses on the production of aircraft engines, helped out 129 billions.
In the coming years, the revenues of these large corporations will continue to grow due to an increase in the supply of domestic aircraft. In the meantime, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft will not reach the planned production rate of five SSJs a month earlier than the 2015. By that time, on the scale of corporations, this program will seem even less significant financially.
Yes, even if the GSS will succeed in establishing a truly mass production, the number of aircraft produced by itself is not an indicator of project success and a guarantee of profitability.
A good example is the Japanese regionalist 60 of the last century, YS-11, who was created with the active support of the government and had no less ambitious tasks than the current Superjet. The plane was an attempt by Japan from scratch to create its civil aviation industry. From the very beginning, it was considered not only and not so much as a “workhorse” for national airlines, but as an export product capable of attracting currency into an economy destroyed by war and occupation.
The aircraft used a very large number of imported components, including the engine, which made it possible to quickly certify it with the US aviation authorities. Over the decade, YS-11 was produced in 182 copies, exported to many countries, including the United States and Western Europe. Its separate copies fly today.
With all this, the program YS-11 is considered a major failure of the Japanese aviation industry, as it became deeply unprofitable for the participating companies that failed to cover their development and production costs, which turned out to be significantly higher than planned. Failure put an end to the dreams of an independent civil aviation industry in Japan and for decades drove away from the country's leadership the desire to play in this field. Only now the next attempt of the Japanese aviation industry is being prepared to rise in the air - the regional MRJ.
I would like to believe that the fate of the Russian Superjet will turn out to be more successful, but this cannot be guaranteed yet. Its life cycle as a competitive product is limited. Now the plane, in terms of its technical and economic indicators, is not worse than any of its current competitors. But by the end of this decade, a modernized Brazilian Embraer should appear. Even today, its far from new CF34 engines are in no way inferior to the economic indicators of the Russian-French SaM146, and the remotorization to promising P&W geared engines will immediately make the current generation of SSJ uncompetitive.
A few previously remotorized E-Jet airlines will begin to receive Japanese MRJ and Canadian CSeries. Although they are not direct competitors to the Russian aircraft, they are close to it in terms of capacity and will inevitably select some potential customers.
Most likely it will reach the series and the long-suffering Chinese ARJ21. The regionalist, who, on the instructions of the Chinese Communist Party, was supposed to start transporting passengers five years ago, still cannot complete certification tests. Despite the fact that ARJ21 made its first flight only half a year later than the SSJ, it will be able to receive certificates from the aviation authorities of China, and then the USA FAA not earlier than the end of the year 2014. This shows how difficult it is to create a modern passenger aircraft that meets stringent international requirements.
Delays regarding plans with certification periods first, and then serious problems with the deployment of mass production, reduced the life cycle of SSJ. Each year the delay cost several dozen "Superjet", which will never be built.
According to Forecast International Research Center's forecast, 2013 An-2023 / 60, 148 Bombardier CRJ, 158 Bombardier CSeries, 376 ARJ352, 103 Embraer E-Jet, including the upgraded 21 X-NUMX 973 285-206 XNUMX XNUMX XNUMX XNUMX XNUMX XNUMX XNUMX XNUMX XNUMX XNUMX XNUMX Bombardier CRJ SSJ.
Overseas production estimates of just over two hundred SSJs seem overly pessimistic. Already, on the Russian plane there are about a hundred firm orders. Successful implementation will undoubtedly attract new customers. Gaining momentum mass production. Since the summer of this year, GSS have reached the rate of release of two SSJ per month. Production becomes rhythmic. The most complex chain of cooperation necessary for modern aircraft industry has been debugged. Not a single passenger plane in the post-Soviet stories Russia and not close to the achieved rate of release.
But two cars per month is just 24 per year, which does not correspond to the plans of the GSS itself, or the delivery schedules agreed with the buyers. In the autumn, the pace of release has grown, but it’s still clear that Sukhoi Civil Aircraft will not be able to reach the planned production of five aircraft per month or 2015 per year before 60 of the year. And by the end of the decade, its sales will fall due to the emergence of new, more economical and younger competitors. This makes it obvious that the officially announced plans for implementing the 800 SSJ are unrealizable. It does not look too realistic to even reach the mark of the half-thousand SSJ produced modifications currently available. This calls into question the payback of the entire project.
The delay in reaching planned targets of production has already led the GSS to the brink of a financial abyss. The development and start-up program was funded mostly from extra-budgetary sources, mainly medium-term commercial loans and bond loans. The terms of payment for them inexorably approached, and the revenue from the supply of one or two planes per month simply did not allow to repay debts on time. This required to borrow again and again not for the development of the company, but for keeping it afloat, pending the deployment of high-grade production.
By the middle of 2013, the GSS debt load exceeded 70 billion rubles. Only interest on them for this year will be paid about four billion rubles - the cost of four or five brand new "Superjet".
At the same time, the production of SSJ is still unprofitable. The cost of manufacturing one machine is currently just under one billion rubles. At the same time, the sales price for start-up customers at 200 – 300 is millions of rubles below cost. Of course, these are planned losses, temporary dumping in order to regain for themselves a piece of the competitive market of regional aircraft. With an increase in production rates, the cost of production gradually decreases and the catalog price for subsequent customers is noticeably higher than for start-up ones. As a result, an exit to 2014 – 2015 for operational break-even looks attainable. But while the financial condition of the manufacturer is only getting worse, debts and losses are accumulating, and huge interest payments are hanging around the neck of a millstone.
But the SuperJet project has already gone too far for the state to allow it to ingloriously die under the pressure of short-term and medium-term loans, which have nothing to return. State officials acted unusually wisely for them, choosing the best way to save the "hope of the domestic aviation industry." The help came in the form of an unusually long-term loan from the state Vnesheconombank, which provided the GSS with a billion dollars at 8,5 percent per annum for 12 years. This loan is not intended for the development of production, but simply allows refinancing the loans looming over the project, delaying the issue of loan repayment before 2024, when basic and long-term SuperJet programs already come to their logical conclusion due to obsolescence.
This removed the threat of immediate bankruptcy from the GSS, but it is unlikely by that time, even with high demand for its aircraft, the company will be able to successfully repay its debts. To give them will have the following projects of the company. Therefore, after reaching the operational break-even, when at least the proceeds from the sold machines will exceed the cost of their production, the GSS will have to seriously engage in the development of a successor to SSJ. In fact, it's time to think about such an airplane right now. But such a development requires an investment of additional hundreds of millions of dollars. And without that, the company struggling to exist simply cannot afford it now. Nevertheless, she will definitely have to go back to the subject matter of the extended SSJ and the more advanced SSJ-NG.
To date, the program has demanded more than three billion dollars from GSS to develop, test, create production and after-sales service systems. Moreover, R & D directly cost less than a billion dollars, and the greatest costs fell on the launch of mass production, which still requires additional investments.
Creating a small regional "Superjet" required huge costs, unprecedented in the post-Soviet aviation industry in Russia. It is unlikely that in the foreseeable future this project alone will be able to recoup them. Nevertheless, during its implementation, invaluable experience was gained in designing, certifying, launching production and creating an after-sales service system for a modern world-class passenger aircraft.
Replaced him as the flagship of the domestic aviation MS-21 more bold. The promising short-haul narrow-body airliner of the KLA is now claiming to play in a completely different league. He should throw the glove no longer to the second-tier aircraft manufacturers, but the unconditional leaders of the global aircraft industry, to fight for a market of more than a thousand airplanes per year.
Do not be a regionalist "Sukhoi", who proved that Russia is able to create a modern passenger plane from scratch, could only laugh at these plans. Now MC-21, whatever name it may receive as a result, is taken seriously. It will be easier for him to go along the beaten track, more chances of success.
But it will require large investments. Even according to a cautious official estimate of UAC, the cost of developing a domestic competitor to short-haul Boeing and Airbus aircraft is at least seven billion dollars. As the experience of the SSJ project shows, this amount will only grow in the process of deploying mass production and commissioning. Inevitable delays in development, without which not a single modern aviation project could manage, will also lead to an increase in costs compared to the plan. As a result, MC-21 is unlikely to meet less than 10 billions of dollars. Therefore, the potential damage in case of failure or failure of the project will be much higher. It will be measured not by hundreds of millions, but by billions of dollars.
In order to minimize the risk of failure when creating an MC-21, the lessons of SSJ development, certification and operation should be taken into account as much as possible. They were obtained in a difficult way - by stuffing cones on their mistakes. The path is painful, but intelligible and memorable.
Unfortunately, for several years SSJ and MC-21 developed, though in parallel, but almost independently from each other. As a result, the differences between them are now more than similarities. This greatly complicates the adaptation of the developments of the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft to the new project. However, MC-21 is still at a stage where it is possible. And the more unification we manage to achieve between these projects, the better will be their future prospects.
“Superjet” has come a long way from the “paper airplane”, which existed only in sketches, to a world-class export product. The cost of this was high. It is unlikely that the project as a whole will become a commercial success. But the resulting positive and negative experience can and should save a lot more in subsequent programs of the Russian aviation industry. Then, if they succeed, MC-21 and future projects of the KLA will be largely due to the modest little Superjet.