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Russia aims self-reliance in aviation manufacturing sector

MOSCOW, Sept 28 – Russia’s aerospace industry will aim to become self-sufficient without the West, using locally made parts to produce 1,000 commercial planes by 2030 and end dependence on Boeing and Airbus said state engineer Rostec.

The remarks by Rostec, a vast state-owned corporation headed by a close ally of President Vladimir Putin that includes Russia’s only civilian aircraft maker, are the strongest indication yet that the country’s aviation sector sees the confrontation with the West as a permanent schism.

The Western imposition of the toughest sanctions in modern history after Moscow sent thousands of troops to Ukraine has forced the biggest change in Russia’s economy since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 to 1991.

The post-Soviet assumptions of the aviation sector have been turned on their head: foreign aircraft, mainly Boeing and Airbus, account for 95% of passenger traffic, but sanctions mean there are no spare parts – and no prospects.

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Reuters reported in August that Russian airlines, including state-controlled Aeroflot, were stripping airliners to secure spare parts they could no longer buy abroad because of Western sanctions.

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

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

“We believe that this process is irreversible and Boeing and Airbus aircraft will never be delivered to Russia,” the statement said.

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Rostec has operated some of Russia’s major industrial, defense and engineering assets since Putin signed a decree establishing the corporation in 2007.

Russian airlines, including Aeroflot, spent on Boeing and Airbus planes as they sought to rebuild their fleets after the chaos of the 1990s. Creating a competitive domestic alternative will be difficult.

The goal of building 1,000 commercial aircraft by 2030 is “basically impossible,” according to aviation analyst Richard Aboulafia, CEO of US-based AeroDynamic Advisory.

“While they could source semiconductors and other vital components from the West, they had very difficult problems producing more than a handful of jets,” he said.

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Compared to the new seven-year target, Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union have built only about 2,000 large commercial jets combined, he added.

When it comes to modern jets, Russia’s only civilian aircraft maker, Rostec United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) ( UNAC.MM ), is constrained by a lack of models, production capacity and foreign components, but it is expected to improve soon.

Half of the components and technologies used in the Russian aviation industry in 2021 came from abroad, according to a document titled: “On strategic directions of activity in new conditions for the period until 2030” prepared by the government and seen by Reuters. .

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

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

MADE IN RUSSIA

Russia plans to produce 20 fully import-replaced regional jets known as Superjet-New annually from 2024 and 72 new medium-range MS-21s from 2029, starting with six in 2024, according to the plan for the development of Russia’s aviation industry until 2030, published by the government in June .

Russia is testing its new MS-21 aircraft with a home-made PD-14 engine instead of the American PW1400G, supplied by Pratt & Whitney ( RRX.N ).

The MS-21 was Russia’s attempt to break into the mainstream of the jet market, which is dominated by Airbus and Boeing.

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But it is struggling to replace foreign components of its Superjet, including the SaM-146 engine, which was designed in a joint venture with French engine firm Safran ( SAF.PA ) and could no longer be produced due to sanctions.

UAC continues to build Superjets with the SaM-146 from stock and plans to deliver about 20 more jets with the engine, Rostec said.

“They will be the last to use our partner solutions with Safran. Then we will install PD-8 engines in this type of aircraft,” said Rostec. PD-8 engines are also produced in Russia.

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

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From 2022 to 2030, Russia plans to deliver 1,036 passenger aircraft. This includes 142 Superjet-New and 270 MS-21s, as well as 70 turboprop Il-114s, 70 medium-range Tu-214s and 12 wide-body Il-96s, designed locally, according to government documents.

“We do not expect sanctions to be eased and we are building our plans on the basis of the existing tough scenario,” Rostec said.

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