3
$\begingroup$

Russia has the proven capability to build large jet airliners.

But, if we take a look at the major airlines in Russia, they don't appear to have Russian airliners:

Why aren't Russian jet airliners popular even in Russia?

If there is any reason like X, Y, or Z, what is Russian government doing to make its home-grown airliners popular?

$\endgroup$
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Performance, reliability, etc. Or profitability to airlines in general. $\endgroup$ – user3528438 May 25 '18 at 6:16
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Acceptance outside of Russia. After all, for domestic services they do fly their own products. $\endgroup$ – Peter Kämpf May 25 '18 at 13:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Red Wings do operate some Tu-204s. They were supposed to order the newer version too, but might have backed off after the fatal runway overrun at Moscow Vnukovo on 29th Dec 2012 that was a third incident in a row where reversers failed to deploy. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Oct 6 '18 at 22:02
3
$\begingroup$

Both the Il-86 and the Tu-204 are 20+ year old designs in very low-rate residual production. They've received some updates, but to a much lesser extent than Boeing's 7x7, new generations of which sometimes amount to a new aircraft reusing a familiar name associated with the same general market.

They do use modern globally competitive Russian aircraft such as Superjet 100 and Irkut MC-21. Both have glass cockpits, efficient engines, the latter also one of the highest composite fractions in its class.

The reason both are narrow-body is that it's easier to design and build something small, gain experience, and then scale up to larger designs. Updating old Soviet airliners would've incurred too much technical debt (a software concept, but it works the same with hardware).

To get into the reasons, an airliner will typically spend half its total lifetime flying, consume over 5,000 times its own weight in fuel, and can rack up its own cost in airport fees. So small differences in reliability and fuel consumption result in large differences in operating cost. Old soviet airliners weren't as good in these regards as Western ones, so couldn't compete in airlines that are run as a business.

New Russian airliners have secured a few orders from foreign airlines, even though their political position is detrimental to such long-term sales. As for the old ones, they're not likely to reenter the market.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ The new generation of russian airliners (Superjet-100 and MC21) is quite young. So maybe the russian airliners will catch up over time. $\endgroup$ – Dohn Joe May 25 '18 at 11:39
  • $\begingroup$ what is Russian government doing to make its home-grown airliners popular? $\endgroup$ – user8792 May 25 '18 at 11:43
  • $\begingroup$ They are trying to sell the new models abroad, with some success. It's a competitive market with with Embraer and Bombardier playing in it, but the Superjet and MC-21 are fairly advanced for their niche. If the political conflict ends, they'll probably get more adoption. As for the old ones, probably nothing, there's no market for them. $\endgroup$ – Therac May 25 '18 at 11:57
  • $\begingroup$ @yahoo.com: You should ask this as a separate question. Use the [Ask Question] button in the upper right of this page. $\endgroup$ – A. I. Breveleri May 25 '18 at 11:59
5
$\begingroup$

It all comes down to cost. It is rather easy to build a large jet aircraft. To build an efficient and reliable large jet aircraft is not that easy. If you read the Wikipedia articles you linked carefully you find in the Il-96 article:

[...] the Il-96-300 had been deemed inferior to counterparts from Boeing and Airbus [...]

and in the Tu-204 article it is indirectly stated that the reliability of the engines isn't that great:

The PS-90A2 [engine] is expected [to have ...] life cycle cost saving of 35% over the original engine with a simultaneous increase in reliability in the 50 to 100% range.

Your next problem is line maintenance capabilities. That is more or less a chicken and egg problem. The Il-96 is a long range aircraft and you need maintenance on your destination. You need a certified mechanic, tools, and components. Component availability is another problem. If there is only a handful of aircrafts of one type there is no large spare supply around the world thus increasing the cost for the operator.

Another problem is that at least the Tu-204 is not fit for the current airspace structure:

The Tu-204SM [...] is an upgraded version of the Tu-204-100/300. [... T]here are numerous upgrades, largely aimed at meeting the current and near-future Russian and international standards [...].

And it requires a three man Cockpit Crew. Remember: The Tu-204 is an A321 sized aircraft.

The new cockpit features allow the Tu-204SM to be flown by a two-pilot crew (as compared with the three-pilot arrangement of the original Tu-204 series).

So far the improved Tu-204SM hasn't materialized so far and likely never will.

[... There are] currently no orders for the Tu-204SM, and Tupolev has frozen on development work on the aircraft and the UAC will withdraw it from their list of aircraft prices as soon as the Irkut MC-21 comes to the market.

As an airline has to keep the costs under control it is unwise to buy an aircraft which, from the start, is inferior to its competitors. It's a simple calculation: What costs more over the predicted lifespan. Initial costs (unit price) might be lower with one product but you have higher costs for fuel and maintenance. Add in some reliability problems and you get the costs incurred by those on top. Another product might have a higher unit price but the running costs are lower. Now do the math and choose whats best for your airline.

All quotes come from the Wikipedia articles on the Ilyushin Il-96 and the Tupolev Tu-204.

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ what is Russian government doing to make its home-grown airliners popular? $\endgroup$ – user8792 May 25 '18 at 11:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @yahoo.com: You should ask this as a separate question. Use the [Ask Question] button in the upper right of this page. $\endgroup$ – A. I. Breveleri May 25 '18 at 11:59
3
$\begingroup$

Before the iron curtain came down, Soviet airlines had to buy from Soviet manufacturers. This does not mean the aircraft produced by the Soviets were good.. they were the only option .. period. You are assuming that that Russian airliners were the equivalent to western built but this is not so. Engine life (TBO-Time between overhauls) and fuel consumption were not as good as western aircaft.

When the walls came down.. western aircraft were seen to be much better performers and the airlines were quick to see the benefit of western aircraft. Still it took some time as buying western aircraft required hard currency and if you had aircraft already flying which were already fully paid for the difference in operating costs would not be realized immediately, hence the cutover to western metal took some time.

Anilv

$\endgroup$
  • $\begingroup$ what is Russian government doing to make its home-grown airliners popular? $\endgroup$ – user8792 May 25 '18 at 11:43
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @yahoo.com: You should ask this as a separate question. Use the [Ask Question] button in the upper right of this page. $\endgroup$ – A. I. Breveleri May 25 '18 at 11:59
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I was living in Ireland just after the fUSSR dissolved. I was outside Shannon, and the switchover to Airbus 300's was rather fast. $\endgroup$ – Maury Markowitz May 25 '18 at 21:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy