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Lifting force of the Far Eastern aviation

On which planes, when and where the Far Easterners in the region will be able to fly, as well as the economics of the process of moving by air in the Far Eastern Federal District, were discussed at the profile session of EEF-2021

In less than four years, the fleet of the unified Far Eastern airline, formed on the basis of Aurora, will be replenished with 45 domestically produced aircraft of various types through targeted financing. But as it turned out at the Eastern Economic Forum, it will not be possible to meet the deadline for all items. First of all, we are talking about the light multipurpose aircraft "Baikal". The Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Russian Federation urges not to rush to the launch of the liner into serial production, but to achieve the necessary return from the machine at the stage of controlled operation.

Lifting force of the Far Eastern aviation

Trial by the North

As Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation Igor Chalik noted at the forum, the Far Eastern airline, which intends to double the passenger traffic to 2025 million people by 2, and the number of operated routes will exceed half a thousand, should have a variety of equipment. “Relatively speaking, if one or another direction needs a board for 50 passengers, there is no need to put up a 100-seat Sukhoi Superjet, but put on an IL-114-300, which has 65-68 seats. Thus, operating costs will decrease, the efficiency of the company will increase, and in general it is favorable for subsidized transportation, ”the official said.

session of EEF 2021 "Normal flight: new air accessibility of the Far East "
Photo: Evgeny Reutov, Roscongress Foundation

According to the General Director of the State Transport Leasing Company (STLK) Yevgeny Dietrich, the delivery plan for the airline has been formed, its implementation depends on the needs of the carrier itself. “While the guys are somehow turning themselves out, they have enough opportunities and capacities,” says the head of the State Transport Leasing Company.

The fleet of the united company will be updated with Superjet 100 (SSJ-100), L-410 NG aircraft, which have been mass-produced, as well as Il-114-300 and Baikal, which are still in experimental design development. Both machines are essential for work in the regional and small aircraft segment.

The first flight of the Il-114-300 took place on December 16, 2020. 
Photo: Artur Gasparyan, Il PJSC

The turboprop Il-114-300, designed for transportation up to 1,5 km, is to replace the out-of-service An-24 and An-26. One of the advantages of the new aircraft is the ability to take off and land from short runways, including in the Far North. Serial production of the Il-114-300 is planned to begin in 2023, whereas previously it was expected that this would happen in 2022. The aircraft, which first took to the air in December 2020, is undergoing flight tests, while the airliner is being finalized. Earlier, Polar Airlines noted that they were generally satisfied with the declared characteristics of the aircraft, the only thing that needs to be done is to improve the issues of reducing the ingress of soil into the propellers and operating the aircraft in low temperatures. To confirm the service life of the IL-114-300, tests are required in Yakutia.


Aircraft manufacturers go beyond the horizon

The situation with "Baikal", which will replace the An-2, turned out to be more complicated. It was decided to abandon the previous modification of TVS-2DTS with a capacity of up to 14 passengers in favor of a lighter 9-seater aircraft: TVS-2DTS did not fit into the economic parameters and had foreign components. The new prototype was presented to the public at the end of July at the MAKS-2021 air show. The plane is expected to make its maiden flight at the end of November this year.

Airplane "Baikal" - LMS-901
Photo: JSC "Aviasalon"

So far, the machine under development is a kind of platform solution, said Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade of Russia Oleg Bocharov, there will be several modifications of "Baikal". Moreover, the cost of the car should not exceed 120 million rubles. (price 2020). For the first time, the deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade said, the authorities agreed that the aircraft would not have a single manufacturer (the Baikal project, as you know, is being dealt with by the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant and the Ural Civil Aviation Plant).

“In fact, the platform will be assembled where parts are made faster and more reliably, and in order to keep the price. Because any mono-production leads to the fact that the overhead from other programs is transferred to this small machine. The marginality there is only 4 million rubles, it is simply not interesting to any director of the plant, especially the one that produces military equipment, ”the deputy minister explained.

Considerable efforts during the creation of "Baikal" are now aimed at minimizing the risks of flight safety. He, in particular, will use such a rescue system as a parachute for an aircraft. The corresponding tests are planned to be carried out in 2023. “Regardless of the fact that the ship is relatively cheap, a person flying from a distant region in Yakutia or Buryatia should understand that there is the same level of safety as on a long-haul aircraft,” Oleg Bocharov emphasized.

At the same time, there will be no hurry with the launch of "Baikal" into the series. The deputy head of the Ministry of Industry and Trade cited the example of Chinese aircraft manufacturers, who, by the way, based on the Soviet-Russian experience, having released an experimental model of the airliner, have been testing it in a controlled operation mode for four years. Only after that the car goes on sale.

Thus, the mass production of "Baikal" leaves for 2025. This was confirmed at the VEF by the Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov in an interview with RIA Novosti: “I think it can take off as an experimental vessel in 2024. But speaking of mass production, it will be after 2026-2027 ”.

Meanwhile, representatives of small aircraft find the An-2 foreign counterpart. For example, Kamchatka Airline JSC, which plans to organize commercial flights on the peninsula, is going to fly on American Cessna Grand Caravan EX. The carrier plans to increase the fleet to 12 such vessels. The 9-seater Cessna aircraft, taking into account the technical and operational characteristics, is ideal for Yakutia, as noted in the Association of Small Aviation of the Republic.


The transition from quality to quantity

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is convinced that by the time of serial production, "Baikal" will be cured of childhood illnesses, confirm its economy, the optimal cost of a flight hour, etc. For the competitiveness of domestic vessels, it is important that they have a price and operating costs similar to foreign counterparts, Evgeny Dietrich argues. The head of the STLC lamented that today, when new aircraft enter the market, the flight characteristics are far from optimal. Carriers need time to "roll out" the plane, and at first it flies little and, accordingly, earns the same amount.

Meanwhile, the Far Eastern airline should reduce operating costs and non-production losses. According to Konstantin Sukhorebrik, General Director of Aurora, in the future the holding's fleet will be much smaller than it is now. On the one hand, the consistent decommissioning of Soviet vehicles will affect, on the other hand, the requirement for better use of the existing fleet will be more clear.

Konstantin Sukhorebrik, General Director of Avrora Airlines
Photo: Evgeny Reutov, Roscongress Foundation

“Our task is to improve efficiency so that flights are loaded, planes are in the air more than they are now,” the manager explained. In the regional aviation of the Far East, the aircraft now flies on average three hours a day, but for it to pay off, this figure must be at least nine.

The company needs to increase the load on the fleet and take out more people with a smaller fleet, sums up the head of Aurora. According to the Federal Air Transport Agency, the percentage of passenger seats occupied by Far Eastern carriers is now below the industry average (for 7 months of 2021 - 80,1%). In particular, with Polar Airlines and Aurora, it retains 62%, Kamchatka Aviation Enterprise - 63,2%, Yakutia - 72,4%. For comparison, the percentage of occupancy of seats for "Russia" - 81,5%, "Siberia" - 84,7%, "Pobeda" - 93,5%.


Without subsidies, you will fly into the pipe

Aurora advocates a differentiated approach. “There is a waterline where government assistance is needed and where we can cope on our own. It takes place in the vicinity of the SSJ-100 aircraft. A little more board - we are already making ends meet, less - without the help of the state people will not fly on the new technology, ”Konstantin Sukhorebrik is convinced.

He sees another problem for the development of the merged company's business in the current situation with regional airports. EastRussia has already written about the state of affairs on the example of Yakutia... In the region, the size of airport tariffs and taxes is on average 6,5 times higher than in the central part of the Russian Federation, and at some rates - more than 11. At the same time, the underfunding of the economy from the state budget jeopardizes the smooth operation of airports.

The state will continue to support the Far Eastern air carrier, Igor Chalik assured. In 2022, subsidies for Aurora will almost quadruple. In total, it is planned to allocate about 17 billion rubles from the budget to subsidize passenger air transportation in the Far East. Of these, 5,9 billion will receive "Aurora". For comparison, the amount of subsidies for this year is 1,58 billion rubles.

In the future, subsidies for the airline should be further increased. It is expected that in 2023 and 2024 the state will subsidize the carrier by 7,1 billion and 7,8 billion rubles. According to the Deputy Minister of Transport of the Russian Federation, this will increase the availability of air transportation in the Far East, including due to the expanded route network (so far, the mobility coefficient of the population within the Far Eastern Federal District is half the average Russian indicator - 0,35 versus 0,72).

In addition, the deputy head of the Ministry of Transport specified that for low-intensity airports, tightening transport security measures for landing sites will not be applied. In October 2020, a corresponding decree of the Russian Federation was issued, according to which special fences with alarms, video surveillance should be installed around the airfields, recruit the staff of rapid response teams, organize round-the-clock patrolling of the runway, etc. Later, industry representatives sent an appeal to Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin about the risk of closing small airports and reducing the frequency of flights. “Now this draft resolution is undergoing final interdepartmental agreement. We have a deadline for submitting it to the government - IV quarter of 2021. Excessive requirements will be changed, ”Igor Chalik said.

In turn, the head of Buryatia, Alexei Tsydenov, called on the carrier to a more precise marketing policy. “A flight from Ulan-Ude to Vladivostok appeared recently, twice a week, but there are no tickets. And so throughout the Far East. We are poorly able to predict this availability and demand. All forecasts and calculations are usually exceeded. As the message appears, in fact, the passenger traffic is growing more than predicted, ”the governor stated.

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