Bjorn’s Corner; The Engine Research Institutes


By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

October 14, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: In our Corners on East bloc aeronautical industries, we will now look at the role of the Research Institutes in Russian and Chinese civil aircraft engine development.

The Russian engine industry is organized similarly to the aircraft industry. It has a powerful research organization which has a much larger role than research organizations in the West.

A large part of fundamental design work and testing is done at the research institute and not at the design bureau level, Figure 1.


Figure 1. PD-14 engine altitude testing at the Central Institute of Aviation Motor Development (CIAM) in Moscow. Source: CIAM.

The Chinese organization of the engine industry is similar, the difference being that the research organizations are organized within the giant AVIC (Aviation Industry Corporation of China) grouping, rather than reporting to the state via a research organization path. Read more

Bjorn’s Corner: The Chinese aircraft engine industry

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

October 07, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: In our Corners on East bloc aeronautical industries, we will now look at the Chinese civil aircraft engine industry.

The Chinese engine industry is closely modeled after the Chinese aircraft industry that we looked at last week. It is organized as divisions and later subsidiaries to the major aircraft companies. Contrary to the Chinese aircraft industry, it has had major problems in gaining the necessary know-how to start developing and producing its own designs.

The industry has built Soviet designs on license since the 1950s and only recently managed to present functional own designs, after many failures.

Read more

Bjorn’s Corner; The Chinese civil aircraft industry

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm.

September 30, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: In our Corners on East bloc aeronautical industries, we will now look at the Chinese civil aircraft industry.

The Chinese aero industry has similarities with the Russian industry in its overall structure. From the start of the industry in the 1950s, it was structured after the Soviet model of research institutes, design bureaus and production companies.

The difference to the Soviet Union was that its own Chinese aircraft designs only started in the 1970s. Before that, the industry built Soviet designs on license and then modified versions of licensed designs.

The first own aircraft designs were presented in the 1980s with a focus on military designs for the first 20 years. Read more

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. Read more

Bjorn’s Corner; The Russian civil aircraft companies

By Bjorn FehrmSeptember 16, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: In our Corners on East bloc aeronautical industries, we will now look at the main Russian civil aircraft companies. There is one overall company since 2006, United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).

This is a state-owned holding which incorporates 30 of the main companies from the Soviet times, employing 100,000 people. The aim is to coordinate and optimize Russia’s project and production resources around the present aircraft and the future projects that Russia can afford to drive.

Figure 1. Map of UAC Companies in Russia outside of Moscow region. Red markers are MRO. Source: UAC.

UAC consolidates several company groups that were formed after the fall of the Soviet Union 1990 and up to the formation of UAC in February 2006.

We will now dissect the main UAC groups and companies that are involved in civil aircraft development and production. Read more

Bjorn’s Corner: East bloc aeronautical industries

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

September 09, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: The Western world civil aeronautical industry developed a number of new aircraft (Boeing 787, Airbus A350, Bombardier CSeries, Mitsubishi’s MRJ) or aircraft variants (A320neo, 737 MAX, A330neo, Embraer’s E-Jet E2) during the last 15 years. The last of these projects (A330neo) is entering flight tests within six months.

MC21-300 image

Figure 1. The MC-21 project is reviving the Russian aeronautical industry. Source: UAC.

Over the next 10 years there will be few new Western hemisphere aircraft projects. But there will be action in the east, in Russia and China. We therefore will cover these projects in more and more articles.

To give a background to these articles, I will spend some Corners to describe some of the differences between the Western and Eastern aeronautical industry. A lot of these differences will come from the industry’s history. We will start with Russia’s airframe industry. Read more

Bjorn’s Corner: Aeronautical greats

By Bjorn Fehrm

September02, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: One of our aeronautical greats, Joe Sutter, left us this week. He’s one of the characters in aeronautics that I admire for his capability to find what is the right thing to do, take the tough decision and fight it through.

747 early concepts_

Figure 1. Early concepts for Boeing 747. Source: Goggle images.

Sutter was the chief engineer for the Boeing 747 project that found that the original idea of stacking two 707s on top of each other, Figure 1, was wrong and instead took the long route to explain what was the right way to go, dual aisle and 10 abreast. Read more

Bjorn’s Corner: A good in-service start for CSeries

By Bjorn FehrmAugust 26, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: Bombardier’s CSeries appears to have a good start in airline operations following its show-and-tell at the Farnborough Air Show in July. The first CS100 entered service with launch customer SWISS International Airlines shortly after the international event wrapped up. The aircraft has now been in service a month.

At the show I was on my way to a meeting with Rob Dewar, CSeries VP and Program manager to discuss the expected in service reliability of the CSeries, starting service with SWISS at the end of the week. I was a bit early and decided to use the time to pass the CS100 exhibition aircraft, the first series CS100 for SWISS. It was flown there by a SWISS crew earlier in the week.


Figure 1. C Series first serial aircraft flying in regular service for SWISS. Source: Bombardier.

The SWISS pilots were preparing for the trip home to Zurich as I entered the cockpit. We had time to talk about the aircraft and their expectations for the first revenue flight in two days, on Friday, the 15thof July. Read more

Bjorn’s Corner: LED runway lighting causes problems

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

August 19, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: I described in my Corner from 5th of August how a forward looking IR camera could add Enhanced Vision capabilities to a pilot’s tools for safe landings. The camera can pick up the infrared heat radiation from temperature differences in the nature down to a tenth of a degree. It can therefore see things that the naked eye can’t see.

Figure 1 is from a trail that FedEx did before equipping several of its freighters with Enhanced Vision Systems. The Infrared camera (right) can clearly see all heat-emitting objects around the runway, including the fields; the naked eye looking through the cockpit window (left) can’t see anything.

Enhanced Vision

Figure 1. Naked eye (left) versus IR camera (right) when landing on a foggy day. Source: FedEx presentation.

This all works fine as long as the landing and runway lights emit heat, i.e., are standard incandescent types. But these are now replaced more and more with LED lights where there is no heat and therefore no appearance on the Enhanced Vision!

Will Enhanced Vision crumble before it took off? Luckily there is a solution. Read more

Bjorn’s corner; Runway safety systems

By Bjorn Fehrm

By Bjorn Fehrm

August 11, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: I recently wrote about the need for Synthetic Vision and other aids to increase the situational awareness of commercial pilots. I asked the OEMs what their plans were for such aids.

One OEM answered that the system will take time until it gets offered as the additional training for the pilots to use the system is not popular with the airlines. It’s hard to monetize a concrete operational benefit for Synthetic Vision systems.


Figure 1. Embraer’s E190-E2 currently under flight test. Source: Embraer.

I have now got a slightly different answer from Embraer. Here is what they say. Read more