In early October, an important event in the life of the Russian aircraft industry took place - the hundredth Sukhoi Superjet-100 (SSJ 100) was released, and the United Aircraft Building Corporation announced a new business plan for its production and implementation to potential operators. About the successes and failures of the aircraft for which the year says a lot of words, a lot of copies break down about this topic. Let's try to calmly and impartially understand the pros and cons of the project.
Let us turn to the very origins of the creation of the "Superjet". The project of a new aircraft was conceived right after the dashing 90s - the time of lawlessness, anarchy and lack of money, which simply could not but affect the domestic aviation industry.
“Almost all the money coming from the state budget to support the aviation industry is spent on the issue of“ Superjet ”
Due to the lack of orders, design bureaus and production plants rapidly degraded, losing technology and personnel potential. In those difficult times against the background of other structures, the Sukhoi company felt much better (later this factor will play a key role in choosing the winner of the competition for the creation of a regional passenger plane). The main merit in this matter belongs primarily to the general designer of the OKB im. Sukhoi Mikhail Petrovich Simonov, who managed to make an excellent Su-27 fighter and the subsequent family of combat aircraft created at its base a great commercial product. Large contracts for it with China, India, and a little later with other countries in the absence of a state order actually saved the designers and serial manufacturers from collapse. But then this positive example was the exception rather than the rule.
By the beginning of the new millennium, all those who had to do with aviation began to realize the urgent need to consolidate industry assets. It was later, in 2006, a single United Aircraft Corporation was created, and at first other options were considered. In particular, it was proposed to go along the Chinese route, where two aircraft building corporations were already functioning. By this time, we also had two alliances, albeit informal ones: MiG - Tupolev and Sukhoi - Ilyushin. Slightly on the side was the Irkut Corporation. Although these alliances were not drawn up on paper and sealed with seals, the aircraft building structures that were part of them cooperated quite closely. For example, at the Mikhov factory in Lukhovitsy, they were seriously preparing for the launch of the production of the Tu-334 passenger liner, and only external factors did not allow this.
In the first decade after the collapse of the USSR, hundreds of airlines were formed on the wreckage of the former Aeroflot, which, with rare exceptions, operated exclusively Soviet-made aircraft. Old equipment had low reliability and no fuel efficiency. The resource of many cars came to an end, the accident rate was going through the roof. It became clear that we need new aircraft of our own production.
We decided to start with the most simple and running - short-haul. Announced a contest for which two applications were submitted. The first was the ASTC. Tupolev with the project 70-local Tu-414. The second challenger was then still unknown to CJSC “Sukhoi Civil Aircraft” with the RRJ project (later SSJ 100) in two dimensions - on the 75 and 95 passengers. And here the most interesting begins.
Tupolev team went to the competition with the aircraft, which was at the stage of full-scale prototyping. CJSC “GSS” had practically nothing, except for the sketch sketches of its offspring and Napoleonic plans. If it was already possible to make accurate calculations of future technical characteristics using the Tupolev machine, then Mikhail Pogosyan, who was the general director of AVPK Sukhoi at that time, only drew bright prospects. By and large, the people of Tupolev could be indignant and protest, because their opponents did not even provide a complete set of drawings for their project, which was one of the conditions of the competition. It seems that the losing side can now tell in detail how they were then inclined to compromise and persuaded to sign the letter that they do not object to participation in the competition of GSS JSC. Apparently, the people of Tupolev believed in the victory of their project so much that they didn’t make out the dirty trick concealed in that unfortunate letter. As a result, in 2003, members of the expert council recognized the RRJ project as the winner of the competition. Calling things by their proper names, one should directly say that the process of the competition itself and its results were rather strange. On the one hand, one would not say that they were brazenly rigged. At the same time, many questions remain and the main one is: what such iron arguments influenced the decision of the members of the expert council? Is the promise of the management of the firm "Sukhoi" to begin production of the aircraft only at the expense of the company? Perhaps - for some time now, money has become a kind of fetish, before which the overwhelming majority of officials simply lose their will.
The whole world in one "jet"
What is SSJ 100 today? In reality, only a glider is completely domestic on the plane. Formally - half our engine. It is collected in Rybinsk in NPO Saturn. But this is only formal, because the key components are brought from France. In addition, for foreign customers (for example, for the Mexican airline Interjet), even the cabin is mounted abroad - in Italy. The remaining units are delivered from the USA, France, Germany, Switzerland. As a result, only 15 percent of the final cost of the product falls on Russia. Crumbs. And how, after all this, to call him Russian?
In the development process, a more than original approach was used: not components and components were designed for a new aircraft, as is customary in global practice, and the design was customized to the already produced samples of units and avionics of leading world brands. But this did not affect the increase in demand for the Russian airliner. Unlike its combat brother Su-27, the “Superjet” turned out to be not so outstanding in technical characteristics. But let us pay tribute, quite normal toiler of the sky, no better and no worse than competitors in the niche of short-haul models, primarily Embraer and Bombardier. And even for the price. Experts say the main drawback of the aircraft is its large weight and therefore increased fuel consumption.
Admittedly, childhood diseases inherent in any new model are gradually cured. Each aircraft released becomes more reliable and less capricious in operation than its predecessors. Gradually, there are airline customers wishing to have SSJ 100 in their fleet, both in our country and abroad. Although the demand, it must be admitted, is small. Contrary to the expectations and promises of the creators of the machine, none of the major airlines for various reasons, in the queue for it is not built. Even the recent collapse of the ruble did not help the project too much. Moreover, as published at MAX-2015, the production of “Superjet” in 2015 will fall to 17 compared to 36 machines in 2014 — there are no orders.
In order to win market share with products that are not very different from competitors in their qualities, you need to dump. Which, however, is now being done - SSJ 100 aircraft are sold to airlines below cost. To maintain a competitive price, the Russian government has to support the project with subsidies. This stimulates demand, but shifts the payback period of the project. But this is exactly what the authors once promised. Where are the promised thousands of sales? Today it is already obvious that this was an attempt to present what was desired. It is good, if annually they will be put into operation at least for 30 – 40 machines of this model.
As a result, SSJ 100 has become a headache for the Russian government. The loss of CJSC GSS, covered by the state, in just nine months of 2015, grew by almost five billion rubles. In fact, all the money coming from the state budget to support the aviation industry is spent on “Superjet”, which is nothing more than a waste of resources.
Tupolev shot down on takeoff
It is known that talking about past events and missed opportunities in the subjunctive mood is a thankless task. But sometimes it is extremely necessary to get to the truth and understand what we could get if the alternative was implemented. This is the only way to avoid repeating such mistakes. Discussion of the fate of the "Superjet" is just such a case.
So back in the year 2003, when that strange competition was held, and imagine that the victory was awarded to the ASTC. Tupolev. How would the situation evolve in an alternative scenario?
First of all, there would be a gain in terms of creating a car. Tupolev aircraft would go on regular lines already by 2005 – 2006 years. And the Superjet saw the sky only in 2008, and began transporting passengers in the livery of Armavia Airlines only in 2011, and this first operator later returned the aircraft to the leasing company, citing frequent car breakdowns. In other words, the delay in terms was at least five years.
Tupolev cars could land and take off from most Russian airfields. The "superjet" is incapable of this - give it airfields exclusively of the first class, of which in Russia there is a relative minority. The reason for this "capriciousness" lies in its design features, namely in the low location of the engines. During takeoff, they simply suck up all the garbage from the runway, which is fraught with serious consequences. But the Tu-414 engines are high and he is not afraid of airfields of any class.
It was planned that in case of victory at the competition, the Tu-414 and its shortened version of the Tu-324 will be produced at the Kazan aircraft factory. With such a development of events, a fully loaded and re-equipped enterprise today would be fully technically ready for the release of PAK DA. Moreover, the Tatarstan government has invested tens of millions of dollars in new production. Yes, and the staff would work in the field, and did not go to the free bread in search of a better life.
The planes of the Tupolev firm would be guided mostly by Russian components. And support for domestic producers, as is known, is not just a beautiful slogan, but also jobs at the same time with taxes paid to budgets of all levels. Naturally, in dollar terms, the new "carcass" would become noticeably cheaper than the "Superjet", which means that there would be an increased demand in foreign markets. And the more mass production, the lower the cost of production - any economist knows this.
It would be extremely unfair not to say a few words about another Tupolev development - the Tu-334, a plane with a very difficult fate. This liner, designed to carry a hundred passengers, took off in 1994-m, but has not yet reached mass production. At first, he was not liked by someone from the high authorities, later, after a dozen years, someone considered him obsolete. In addition, in the 90-e years of jet fuel was relatively cheap, so they continued to fly mostly on low-cost cars built by the Soviet. For the production of Tu-334 there was no incentive. Then, when oil products began to rise sharply, the Superjet and the Ukrainian An-148 crossed the road almost simultaneously. If the bet on the first one was made from some short-term considerations, the arrival of the second plane to Russia was due to purely political flirtations with Ukraine. As a result, today we are reaping the fruits of those mindless decisions: both models are under great political risks, their production can stop at any time.
A curious fact: at the turn of the century, the Kazan plant was also ready, but failed to put into production stopped literally at the modeling stage projects of medium transport aircraft Tu-230 / Tu-330 with the PS-90 engine already ready for them and mass-produced. Otherwise, today we would not have to start the Russian-Indian project MTA, a transport worker of the specified class, from scratch. By 2015, such aircraft would have flown at least ten years ago, and the load of the enterprise itself would have increased significantly.
Political risks are a special topic. The trouble is that they have a very negative impact on economic relations. Interestingly: did anyone consider such risks when making a decision at a well-known competition?
"Superjet" to be and change
After all this, there is a question on duty: what to do? Of course, it's a shame that everything turned out that way. After all, there was a real alternative, and then the Russian aviation industry would not have suffered. Yes, and in the sky would fly much more of our aircraft.
No matter what they say, it seems reasonable to continue the production of the Superjet, immediately making a number of significant adjustments to it. First of all, it concerns the replacement of western components with domestic ones without prejudice to the aircraft itself. For example, the chassis and part of the avionics, we can do no worse and even cheaper besides. And with the planned production on the conveyor of the elongated version of the “Superjet”, it is necessary to equip it with engines exclusively of domestic production and thereby increase the share of Russian manufacturers even more.
It would be wise with the support of the Russian government to create an independent commission of experts, which will include leading designers KB them. Tupolev and KB them. Ilyushin, having a wealth of experience and based on long-standing traditions of designing and building passenger aircraft. And set the task - to thoroughly study the design of the SSJ 100, and then make specific proposals for its refinement to improve the flight and economic characteristics. The creators of the aircraft themselves should not stand aside, but work together with the members of the commission, understanding that the success of the business largely depends on the coherence of the work of all interested parties. After all, the effective in all respects "Superjet" is beneficial to them in the first place.
The creation of a new medium-haul aircraft MC-21 is slowly approaching. According to the announced plans, the aircraft plant in Irkutsk will be engaged in its final assembly. But there is absolutely no officially confirmed information about who designs the liner and where. There is no reliable data about future suppliers of components, except, perhaps, for engines. I would not want to, but it seems that we are again attacking the rake. But at stake is big money and the prestige of the industry.
As for the "Superjet", we have what we have. However, it is not too late to correct the situation. A lot of money is not required. Only state will is needed. And this plane is good or not, let everyone decide for himself.