Bjorn’s Corner; The Russian civil aircraft engine companies


By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

September 23, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: In our Corners on East bloc aeronautical industries, we now look at the main Russian civil aircraft engine companies. As with the aircraft side, there is one overall Russian engine company since 2008, United Engine Corporation (UEC), Figure 1.

This is a state-owned holding which incorporates 80%of the gas turbine engine companies from the Soviet times, employing 80,000 people.

The aim is to coordinate and optimize Russia’s engineering and production resources around present and future gas turbine engines for Aeronautical, Naval and Stationary use.


Figure 1. Engine companies in United Engine Corporation. Source: UEC.

Soviet and Russian engines have historically been named after their chief designer in the design bureau. We will now describe the main entities in UEC that work with airliner engines.

Saturn group

One of the engine companies in UEC working with airliner engines is Saturn, Figure 2.


Figure 2. UEC Saturn company activities, locations and subsidiaries. Source: UEC. Click for better view.

Its experience in making engines for different applications is given in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Engines manufactured by the Saturn company. Source: UEC. Click for better view.

The company’s present engines for commercial and transport aircraft are shown in Figure 4. Note the SaM146 for the SSJ100 that Saturn does in cooperation with SNECMA of SAFRAN Group.


Figure 4. Saturn civil engines and their applications. Source: UEC. Click for better view.

The company’s main activities are engines for military use. The modern projects are shown in figure 5.


Figure 5. Saturn military engines and their applications. Source: UEC. Click for better view.

Aviadvigatel and Perm engine company (PMZ)

The second main grouping which designs civil aircraft engines in Russia is the Aviadvigatel design bureau with production at the Perm engine company. Headquarter, design bureau and production facilities are in Perm (Figure 2).

The Perm engine plant started life as an adapter/producer of the Wright Cyclone engine for Soviet license production in 1934, then turned to its own designed jet engines in the 1950s named after the Soloviev chief designer. The bureau was previously called the Perm design bureau and has established its own school for engine design.

Well-known engines are the DK30 (20-26klbf) for Tu-154, Il-62 and Il-76 and the PS-90 (35-40klbf) for Il-96, Tu-204/214 and modern IL-76.

Aviadvigatel’s future program is leading the PD-14 (20-40klbf) high bypass engine project for the Irkut MC-21. Figure 6 shows the engine and the main partners involved in the project.

PD-14 partners

Figure 6. Russia’s new PD-14 engine with participating companies. Source: Aviadvigatel. Click for better view.

Aviadvigatel will almost certainly also be the lead for the new 70-80klbf wide-body engine that has been commissioned by the state for the Russian-Chinese joint venture 280 seater. Russia was left without high bypass engines larger than 40klbf (PS-90) when the conflict with Ukraine made the Ivchenko-Progress designs (see below) no longer politically correct.


The Klimov design bureau is mainly active in military engines (RD-33 for MIG-29/35) and helicopter engines (TV3 for 95% of all Mil and Kamov helicopters). The design bureau has also developed the modern TV7-117 turboprop for the Il-114 regional turboprop which will now go in serial production at the Sokol aircraft plant.


The Kuznetsov design bureau is mainly active in military engines (NK-12 for Tu-95, NK-25 for Tu-22M, NK-32 for Tu-160) but historically did the NK-86 for Il-86 wide-body airliner and NK-144 for the Tu-144 supersonic airliner.

Ivchenko-Progress based in Zaporizhia, Ukriane was part of the Soviet engine industry with several important designs. These were produced by the neighbor Motor Sich company but also by Russian engine companies like Salyut (Figure 1).

Well known airliner engine designs are:

  • AL-25 (3.8klbf for Yak 40)
  • DT-18 (52klbf for An-124, AN-225)
  • D-36 (14klbf for YAK42, AN-72, AN-74)
  • D-436 (15klbf for YAK-42M, AN-148, AN-158, AN-178, Be-200).

26 Comments on “Bjorn’s Corner; The Russian civil aircraft engine companies

  1. Which of these agencies was working on the ultra high bypass turbofan with variable pitch fanblades? Seemed like a pretty cool idea….

  2. It may be of interest that the D36and 436 were 3 spool designs, an unusual configuration at fairly low thrust levels. The Honeywell ATF3 was also 3 spool and to the best of my knowledge these are the only non Rolls Royce 3 spool designs.

    • The AN-124 uses D18-T engines, which are also 3 spool, same designers. Roughly equivalent to the RB-211.

      I sometimes wonder if the Soviet designers chose 3 spool because they’d heard that RR were giving it a go, and thought ‘Why not?’. The D36 first ran in 1971, and RR plumped for 3 spools in 1965, and the Soviets must have taken a similar decision around about the same time to be running in 1971. It’s possible that the Soviets thought of the idea entirely independently, if not before, RR.

      A long time ago I heard a D18-T let go on an AN124 during its take-off run at the Farnborough Airshow. Fairly impressive noise!

      Anyway, 3 spools is cool. Makes the flight engineer’s panel even more impressive than it already is, all those extra gauges. The architecture has certainly stood RR in good stead for a long time now.

      • Flight engineer ? extra gauges ?
        For military engines the US F404 and RB199 are very close in performance.
        Essentially the 3 spool has better thrust to volume and thrust to weight.
        The performance characteristics were different as one was ‘high ‘ 1.1BPR while the other for fighter roles was 0.34.
        The ‘large’ BPR probably made the 3rd spool worthwhile while the later EJ200 was 0.4 and only 2 spool.

        • > Flight engineer ? extra gauges ?

          The more the merrier! You know where you stand with a chap/chapess who can look at 1000 dials and, with a calm authority, tell you that all is well. That’s someone to look up to.

          Was once up at China Lake when the RAF were in town with a variety of aircraft, inc Tornados. Asking USN pilots what their impressions of the Tornado were was good fun. After clearly struggling for something complimentary they’d generally go with, “well, it’s noisy”!

          It’s hot and high there, and at the time the Tornado fleet was due to be retired, so all the contracts with RR were off and the RB199s were being kept going with salvaged parts. This made them smokey and well down on power. Years later they’re still in service… Three spools being held together by chewing gum and pluck.

          The Tornados needed every inch of runway to get into the sky. Take off involved arriving at the far end of the runway, raising the gear to see what happened next, prune the bushes on the way into the sky. The Hornets were a bit better than that. Harriers did their thing. There was an F117 hanging around too, though I missed seeing that one land/takeoff (if it did that is). Typhoons were impressive, they’d taxi 1/3 of the way down the runway, about level with the apron, open up their throttles and would be airborne with 1/3 of the runway left. Showoffs. They ran rings round the US types in the sky too, made Hornets look like cannon fodder.

          • I once stopped at a general airfield where the road passed close to the taxiway before the light planes began the takeoff run. The high wing Cessna’s just sort ambled down the runway a bit and just went straight up while holding level. An old Mustang, a rare sight, tore down the runway and kept going and going , finally lifting off with its tiny wing. But of course once in the air the Mustang was streets ahead.

        • “For military engines the US F404 and RB199 are very close in performance.”

          Except when it comes to reliabilty and lifespan.

          • Not every country was a lavish with spares and maintenance as US- well up to now, as they find out there is no money to do it like the old days. Bizarrely the US system has head of maintenance squadron a pilot. The idea of using professional mechanical engineers is unheard of. They just have the maintenance manual and if its not there call the manufacturer.
            If you know anything about US military engines, many were unreliable as well. Indeed some were so bad the planes they were allocated to never flew. The F100 was a dog for a long time and not until its improved version F110 came along. That was m30 years ago so they have time to get it right.
            The cycle starts again with the F-35 and the F135……. which could be replaced by 2025

  3. Keesje and Herb,

    there has been no lack of innovation in the Soviet times; 14,000hp contrarotating turboprops, small three shafts, (military) engines with 3D movable nozzels… lets hope Russia finds the path back and start challenging the conservative Western manufacturers.

    • Great minds and ideas hindered by poor production values.
      You are only as strong as your weakest link.

    • Bjorn:

      I sincerely hope Russian does not find its way back and they end in failure.

      A strong dictatorship is not what is in the best benefits of the Democracies. A weak one at least only hurts their own people, and that is not good, but the consequences of an aggressive dictatorships are far worse (and I do acknowledge the actions of even democratic states in that regard)

      The concept that trade then stops wars has proven wrong repeatedly, so anything that benefits them is a potential weapon against the Western world and the world in general

      Russian feeding a much stronger China higher tech equipment sends shivers down my spine.

      In Chinas hands and with its control lines extending out to Hawaii, that is not in anyone’s best interest them brig more capable either.

      There is nothing wrong with conservative for civilian applicators. Its safe, bleeding edge leads to loss of life and we certainly don’t ever want to return to the days of the 30s through the 70s of regular airline crashes. Pilots have enough problems flying with two engines working these days.

      Let the US and European military experience with the exotic stuff,

      • Please spare us the high school strategic lessons. The democracies go to war too, havent you heard of US/Nato in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and their formenting civil war in Syria ? And well before that Vietnam/Cambodia /Laos
        Who now remembers nato member Turkeys invasion and occupation to this day of half its neighbour Cyprus ? Taking small islands a long way from your territory ? The US has such places in carribean, France offshore to Mexico’s pacific coast, UK/US with Diego Garcia in south Indian Ocean.
        The only rule is that big countries all to these sort of things, no matter if they have kings, or parliaments, or dictators.

          • tell me why does the US control Navassa Is in the Caribbean ( its between Jamaica and Haiti). Its 600 miles to Key West ( passing through Cuba) Its only bad when China wants islands nearer to other countries and 600 miles from its territory. The Iraq war didnt have UN approval so prima facie was just as illegal as the takeover of Crimea, or that of Cyrus for that matter.
            This isnt the place to debate all that stuff, we should be able to look at civil aircraft on their merits

          • If you actually read my post you will see I said that Democracies have their issues.

            link to the sea control area you are talking about?

            So yes they do stupid things. But they also are not into territorial aka imperialist expansion.

            Which would you rather have, the US and it leave Iraq with all its resources or Chechnea where the Soviet are staying, have leveled the place and have slaughtered a significant part of the population?

  4. Thanks Bjorn for following up on Russian aircraft companies with Russian aircraft engine companies.

    Traditionally, Russian companies are better known for their impressive rocket and military aircraft engines, and the civilian engines have lagged behind western counterparts, except in some cases such as the UDF and turboprop mentioned in the blogs.

    Ongoing conflict with Ukraine has been disruptive to the aerospace industries in both countries. A needless tragedy IMHO.

    A historical note: Ukraine was an integral and almost inseparable part of the Soviet Union. Much of the blood shed in the Second World War was over Ukraine and Crimea (20 million Soviets died in that war). Nikita Khrushchev, the Prime Minister of the Soviet Union in the 1950’s and 60’s was born in a village close to Ukraine. He was the governor of Ukraine for a while. He was the one who “gave” Russian Crimea to Ukraine for mostly administrative ease. It did not matter then, since Ukraine and Russia were both part of the same country. But now the conflict between the two has had a major impact on almost every aspect of their societies including the aerospace industry. Hence the split with the Ukrainian Antonov aircraft and Ivechenko/Progress engines!

    • Excellent post:

      The people of the Soviet union indeed did suffer catastrophically during that war. The Soviet leadership helped to create the very monster that attacked them and the people as always suffered the gruesome consequences.

      Just to add, the economic interlocking of the Soviet Republics was a planned strategy .

      It was to ensure that they would not want to succeed for the sake of massive economic disruption they would incurred. Key industries were scattered around the whole Soviet Union with none having the whole operation for building something like a vehicle.

      One of the Baltic States made fuel injection pumps for the whole Soviet Union. Huge disruptor when oddly, despite the economic pain they suffered as the rest of what they needed was made elsewhere, they left.

      Maybe the most significant case in point, when they could leave they did regardless of the economics . They were far more interlocked economically than any trading block.

      Ie economic interest and interlock fails.

      Britain did the same thing to the EU though exit is more structured .

    • Thank Kant, brilliant, it adds to the understanding. I have also got the info that an important part of the Soviet turbine part industry was single sourced in South-East Ukraine, around Motor Sich. With the split Russia was in dire straights re Turbofan and Turboshaft production for a while. I have not been able to verify it 100% so did not put it in.

      • The BBC covered this in more general terms a year ago
        Ukraine crisis: Why a lack of parts has hamstrung Russia’s military

        “…Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told parliament that Ukrainian components were used in the production of 186 types of Russian military equipment.”
        it covers things such as gas turbines for Frigates and a rocket that launches satellites
        “Ukrainian company Motor-Sich stopped deliveries of helicopter engines for combat helicopters, but continued taking orders for civilian helicopters”
        This is in line with EU sanctions.

        Other sources have talked about ICBMs
        “Its SS-18 ICBMs are designed, manufactured and maintained by Ukraine’s state-owned Yuzhmash enterprise in Dnepropetrovsk.”

        Ukraine’s Motor-Sich plant manufactures jet engines for Russian transport aircraft, engines for all Russian combat and transport helicopters and auxiliary power units for many types of aircraft and helicopters. Ukraine also makes auxiliary equipment, such as hydraulics and drogue parachutes, for advanced Russian fighters such as the Su-27, Su-30 and Su-35.
        Ditto for the missiles carried by those fighters. Ukrainian companies manufacture the R-27 air-to-air missile as well as seekers for the R-73.”

        Apparently the specialists are being asked to move to Russia for higher pay

        The US of course buys electronics from China so could could be vulnerable in some areas.

  5. If Leeham intend to keep the site as a serious journalism portal, you guys should clean the sick minded comments.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *