A joint project between Russia and China to create a wide-body aircraft will help both countries to significantly strengthen their position in the long-range aircraft market, which is now dominated by the United States and Europe. If we manage to successfully bargain with Chinese partners, then for Russian aircraft manufacturers this project will be a good reason to increase competitiveness. aviation materials and equipment.
The three-year negotiations between Russia and China on the joint creation of a wide-body long-haul airliner reached a new stage and gained real outlines. During the visit of the Russian delegation to the PRC, President of United Aircraft Building Corporation (UAC), Mikhail Poghosyan, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of COMAC, a Chinese corporation, signed a memorandum of cooperation on a prospective passenger wide-body long-haul passenger plane program in Shanghai.
«The signed document is the result of two years of joint work by specialists from Russia and China. Combining the efforts of COMAC and UAC to jointly create a wide-body aircraft family brings the cooperation of both countries in the field of aviation to a fundamentally new level"- said Mikhail Pogosyan.
Within the framework of the Russian-Chinese project, several hundred aircraft may be launched. According to the KLA, the demand for wide-body aircraft up to 2033 can be about 8 thousand units, of which more than seven thousand passenger aircraft. More than half of the total demand in the wide-body segment, about four thousand airliners, will in the long run be in the Asia-Pacific market, of which about a thousand aircraft may be in demand for the domestic market of China.
According to experts, the signed agreement could initiate the largest project in the cooperation of Russia and China in the field of high technologies, since the engineers of both countries will have to create a new wide-body aircraft from scratch. The task is ambitious - to press the American Boeing and the French Airbus on the long-range aircraft market.
A source familiar with the terms of the memorandum in the Russian delegation in Shanghai explained Expert Online that, thanks to the implementation of the project, not only Russian technologies will be in demand, but also the capacities of the plants. It is assumed that Russia and China will produce components, a glider and a wing, and avionics in approximately equal volume.
“A number of projects for the creation of domestic aircraft, for example, SSJ-100 and MC-21, allowed Russian enterprises to launch the production of components that are comparable in quality and price to Western ones. Not only Russian technologies in the field of design, but also the capacities of the enterprises producing component parts will be in demand, ”says a source in the Russian delegation.
The working group of Russian and Chinese engineers has been operating for three years. UAC has offered Chinese partners to take the PD-14 Russian engine, developed under the MC-21 aircraft program, as the basis for the future liner. It is at its base that the UAC plans to create a new concept of a wide-body version of the modification of the mainline aircraft of the 21st century. However, the PRC intends to mainly independently realize their achievements in the field of aircraft engine building when creating a passenger long-haul aircraft. "But in this case, Russian developers will be attracted to the creation of a fan circuit for the new engine," the source added.
“It should be recognized that Russia is now losing to China on composite materials, including because they have fewer export licenses and therefore a wider market,” explained Expert Online, chief designer of Aerocomposite CJSC Sergey Kulikov. - But then we have no equal in aerodynamic design. The same China ordered wing design at the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute and was very pleased. At the same time, the first composite wing developed by us consists mainly of imported materials. The problem is that our polymers are still expensive because of limited production. But if we are talking about several hundred airplanes, then this is a decent amount, which will make it possible to sharply reduce the cost of our materials due to multi-production. In general, such cooperation opens up great prospects, since the combination of advanced technologies on both sides will help to make a competitive airliner. ”
Ready to participate in the creation of a joint Russian-Chinese wide-body aircraft in terms of the development of aviation materials and technologies and the All-Russian Institute of Aviation Materials (VIAM). Preliminary consultations on this issue have already been initiated by the KLA. Currently, VIAM and the Avic Aviation Engineering Academy of China (AVIC TECH) have decided to combine their efforts to carry out joint fundamental-oriented and applied research.
“Our institute has been cooperating with colleagues from China for a long time in the field of creating and using new materials for civil aviation,” explained Roman Streshnev, Expert Online, head of the VIAM Corporate Communications department. - It should be noted that, in the image of VIAM, a similar material science institute was established in Beijing - the Beijing Institute of Aviation Materials, with which we maintain close contacts.
At the International Aviation and Space Salon MAKS-2013, VIAM General Director, Academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Yevgeny Kablov and President of AVIC TECH Liu Lin signed a framework agreement on cooperation and joint activities in the field of civil aviation.
“Among the priority areas of cooperation with China are the issues of creating new materials for advanced civil aircraft,” says Roman Streshnev. - VIAM is undoubtedly a leading institution in its field, to whose works the Chinese side shows great interest. At the same time, it should be noted that in recent years, colleagues from the Middle Kingdom have achieved a lot in the field of aeronautical materials science. ”
The Beijing Institute of Aviation Materials is a leading Chinese institute whose main activity is the research, development and implementation of aviation materials and technologies. PIAM is a part of the large scientific and technical complex AVIC TECH, which in turn is subordinate to the China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC).
Aviation Equipment Holding, which develops and manufactures 18 types of aircraft systems and units, is ready to supply its products for the joint project.
In nine of them, which are priorities, the holding has the competence of the integrator. These include power supply and fire protection systems, chassis, auxiliary power unit, oxygen system, parachutes and landing facilities, emergency escape facilities and ground support.
“Now Aviation Equipment Holding is working on creating unique and promising systems that will meet the requirements of not only domestic, but also foreign customers,” said Maxim Kuzyuk, Director General of Aviation Equipment Holding, told Expert Online. - We are ready to participate in the project to create a new wide-body aircraft. The systems we create are as unified as possible, and most of them can be modified for any board. This will reduce development, supply and after-sales costs. ”
Most likely, suppliers of systems will be selected on a competitive basis.
“We are ready to participate in tenders, both with time-tested systems, and with our latest developments, depending on what requirements the equipment will place on the customer. Now Aviation Equipment Holding is successfully cooperating with UAC on a number of projects, and we are confident that we will be invited as one of the main partners in this program, ”says Maxim Kuzyuk.
As Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin said earlier, now the sector of long-range wide-body aircraft is almost lost for the Russian aircraft industry. About 80% of traffic on such aircraft accounted for equipment manufactured by Airbus and Boeing. Therefore, a joint project of Russia and China, when entering the international market, is bound to meet with severe competition. However, we also have the necessary technologies obtained during the modernization of the IL-96 developed in the USSR, the only wide-body aircraft in Russia. Such liners are distinguished by the width of the fuselage in 5-6 meters against four meters in conventional aircraft, they can accommodate up to 10 seats in a row. Because of roominess, they are much more often used as long-haul. Attracting China, which also needs such aircraft, will help to significantly increase the number of aircraft planned for construction and thereby improve the main financial indicators of the project and implement advanced engineering developments.
“Russian engineers are still one of the most powerful specialists in the world in the field of military technical engineering,” explained Ivan Andrievsky, First Vice-President of the Russian Union of Engineers All-Russian Public Organization, Expert Online. - Chinese engineers often learn from their Russian colleagues. Our country has unique knowledge in the field of aircraft and rocket production. Russia is one of the leaders in this field. That is why the same Chinese specialists are actively cooperating with domestic companies and educational institutions, which have achieved very significant success in this matter. But our Chinese colleagues are strong in electronic technology and excel in a variety of high-tech areas. ”
This summer, the KLA and COMAC plan to submit a feasibility study of the project to their governments. In the near future, the parties will begin to implement the next stage of work on the project. It is necessary to determine how the development of the main systems of the aircraft will be conducted, the directions of its advancement and the most effective formats of participation of the parties. But even at a normal pace of negotiation, mass production can only be established by the end of this decade.
“Now the central issue of negotiations will be who in the framework of the partnership will receive more preferences, the market for parts, what will be the investment volumes of both parties,” explained Anton Danilov-Danilyan, co-chairman of Business Russia, Expert Online. - As a production worker, I’ll say that it’s not very easy to negotiate with the Chinese in such matters, they think in terms of thousands of years. But the sooner we reach an agreement, the sooner we will come close to competing with American and European long-haul airliners. ”