Aeroflot, the route to a modern airline, Part 2

By Bjorn Fehrm

April 19, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: In our second article about Aeroflot, the Soviet Union flag carrier that transformed to a modern airline, we will cover the period from the fall of the Soviet Union until 2010.

This was the difficult period for all participants. The old structures no longer existed and were replaced with… nothing, followed by uncertainty and a long struggle to get back to normal.

Figure 1. IL-96-300, a Soviet long range aircraft which stayed in the Aeroflot fleet until 2014. Source: Aeroflot.

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Aeroflot, the route to a modern airline

By Bjorn Fehrm

April 12, 2017, ©. Leeham Co: Aeroflot, established as the Soviet Union’s flag carrier in 1923, transformed from a state enterprise to a modern airline group after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

The airline is today Europe’s seventh largest airline, two-thirds the size of Turkish Airlines, but having the same fast growth since 2005. We will cover Aeroflot’s journey in a series of articles, starting with the group’s history.

Figure 1. Aeroflot Boeing 777-300ER. Source: Wikipedia.

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Russian-Chinese wide-body: Program responsibilities

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

September 29, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: We will now finish our series about the Russian-Chinese wide-body with looking at who will have what role in the program.

Russian-Chinese widebody

Figure 1. Concept for new wide-body airliner. Source: United Aircraft.

As we described in the initial article, “Background and outlook,” Russia and China have vastly different competencies when it comes to making a state of the art wide-body aircraft.

Russia has made airliners since the 1930s, including wide-body jets. China did not design its own jet aircraft (military or civil) until the mid-1980s. Most of the aircraft produced still today in China have their origin in Russian designs.

At the same time, we saw in the article about the market demand for the aircraft that the Chinese market is 90% of the home market. This makes for China demanding important parts of the aircraft’s production, and China has the money to invest in production facilities.

All this will influence how different parts of the project will be shared between Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) and Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC).

Summary:

  • Russia and China enter the wide-body project with widely different knowledge bases.
  • Russia has long time knowledge on how to develop and produce aircraft and their engines.
  • China on the other hand has the market for the aircraft.
  • China also know a lot about serial production and have money to invest. 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.

uec-full

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

Russian-Chinese wide-body: The aircraft, Part 4

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

September 15, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: In Part 3 of this series, we identified the type and size of wing we would have on a new Russian-Chinese wide-body. It’s now time to go through all the considerations around the engines for the aircraft.

Russian-Chinese widebody

Figure 1. Concept for new widebody airliner. Source: United Aircraft.

The aircraft would enter the market around 2025. We would have to decide on what size engine that would be needed, what engines would be available at the time and could this project motivate any new engine developments.

Summary:

  • The Russian-Chinese wide-body as outlined would require engines in the size class of the Boeing 787-9/10.
  • GE and Rolls-Royce have been mentioned as engine suppliers. The question would be: will they offer updated 787 engines or new designs and will Russia compete with its announced engine project for the aircraft?

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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

Russian-Chinese wide-body; The aircraft Part 3

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

September 08, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: Having covered the possibilities of reusing parts of the Il-96 fuselage for a new Russian-Chinese wide-body, it’s now time to look at the existing IL-96 wing and how far this is from a modern design.

Russian-Chinese widebody

Figure 1. Concept for new wide-body airliner. Source: United Aircraft.

The intent is not to propose that the existing wing is reused but rather to check the technology level against western designs and how big a leap it will be for the partners to make a modern high performance wing for the aircraft.

Summary:

  • The IL-96 wing is roughly on the technological level of the Airbus A340-300 wing with a bit lower aspect ratio.
  • The dimensions are close to what is needed for the new wide-body but sweep and aspect ratio needs to be changed for a new wing.
  • A wing for a 2025 long range wide-body also need a more modern construction technology than classical aluminum alloys.

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Irkut MC-21; we look at the MC-21-300, Part 2.

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

August 01, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: After having found the nearest competitor to the Irkut MC-21-300 as the Boeing 737 MAX 9 in our first article, we now go deeper in the comparison of the two aircraft.

MC21-300 image

Figure 1. MC-21-300 at the roll out in June 2016. Source: Irkut

In the first article, we found that the aircraft have almost identical cabin dimensions. Now we will look at other areas like airframe dimensions, weights and data which dictate overall performance.

Summary:

  • The MC-21 has cabin dimensions which are very close to the 737 MAX 9.
  • The nominal two class seating by Irkut is lower than the MAX 9. We have assumed that this will increase during the lifetime of the MC-21.
  • We also compare other data between the MC-21-300 and the MAX 9, such as weights, wetted areas and effective wingspans to see if these are similar as well. In the end these dictate the aircraft’s efficiency together with the engines.

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IRKUT MC-21; we look at the MC21-300.

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

July 28, 2016, ©. Leeham Co: In February we did a first analysis of the new Irkut MC-21 single aisle aircraft that Russia is developing. We found that the aircraft has its own profile; it’s not a copy of a Western design. Irkut is the company within Russia’s United Aircraft group which is developing MC-21 (or rather, its design bureau, Yakovlev, is). Irkut has also gone its own way in sizing the aircraft.

MC-21-300

Figure 1. MC-21-300 at the roll out in June 2016. Source: Irkut.

In our February analysis, we found that the first aircraft being developed, the MC-21-300, is larger than both the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 MAX 8, the present top sellers in the single aisle market. At the time, we decided to analyze the aircraft which was closest to those two in size, MC-21-200, which is the second variant in development. We will now look at the larger MC-21-300 (Figure 1), the aircraft which rolled out in June and which will fly early next year.

Summary:

  • The MC-21 has its own profile; it is not a copy of a Western aircraft. It has a wider cabin than the A320 and a higher capacity in its base variant, the MC-21-300.
  • The MC-21-300 is smaller than an A321. It most closely resembles a Boeing 737 MAX 9 in size. We will therefore conduct the analysis of the MC-21-300 by comparing it to the largest Boeing MAX variant.

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