Without patrons and consumers: which flies regional aircraft Sukhoi Superjet 100

This plane really made me believe in a great and bright future of the Russian aviation industry and had a chance of success more than any other. But, despite all efforts to conquer the world failed in Superjet disappointed and buyers and backers. The project worth over two billion dollars at some point, probably quietly closed down to give way to a new favorite — MS-21

While Brussels Airlines is launching on the route of the leased Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ), the son of Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin, Alexey Rogozin attends Vice-President of the government of the United aircraft Corporation (UAC). The first news gives a glimmer of hope, the second extinguishes it immediately. The appointment of Rogozin-younger is one of the many signals on the unenviable future of the SSJ. Rogozin Sr. is promoting the revival of the Soviet aircraft, while SSJ has always been considered “too foreign”. The KLA budget money is not enough — to win those who have the most nimble lobbyists, and the last movement of staff speak for themselves. Superjet lost his patron and had lost its former magic: a breakthrough project, he became an outsider, and soon seem to completely fall out of the race.

The last steps

22 February, “Kommersant” wrote that the defense Ministry refuses to buy SSJ, although a month ago stated the opposite. The next day, the Russian office of Transparency International released a report on conflicts of interest in the defense Ministry, where one of the chapters is devoted to Superjet: the Pope in charge in the military procurement of aircraft, and children work in the company “Sukhoi Civil aircraft” (SCAC; “granddaughter” of the KLA).

The Deputy Director of “Transparency International — Russia” Ilya Shumanov immediately drew attention to it: “a Moment of conspiracy. <…> For the six hours prior to the presentation of the report of the Ministry of defense denied the existence of negotiations to purchase aircraft [Sukhoi Superjet 100]. Thus, the Ministry of defense yesterday denied date on today’s news.”

Looks really like the “dream conspiracy”. But family ties in the trade-money relations has never been considered we sin. Then suddenly the generals to fear and to take back sharply?

It is just not in the report. For completeness, we need other elements of the picture. One — very important — there March 14: son of Rogozin, the defense Ministry moved to the KLA. He will deal with the transport aircraft division with the parent company Il.

The following element. The perimeter of this division, among others, will be Voronezh aircraft company (VASO). The plant has to turn the production of Il-96-400, which is lobbying Rogozin Sr.

And the final touch. Recently, the government approved cuts of 12% funding for the aviation industry. But despite the sequestration, few projects will get more money is the Il-114-300, Il-96-400, MS-21 and their engines. The Superjet was not there.

The picture: in the civil aviation industry has changed priorities, and the Superjet is not one of them.

Unbridled optimism

Shuffling projects in the KLA began after the change of leadership. In January 2015, the presidency of the Corporation prematurely left Mikhail Pogosyan. He is considered the ideologue and patron of the Sukhoi Superjet 100. Seventeen years ago, Poghosyan was led by “OKB Sukhoy”. Despite the military expertise, he began to lobby for a civil project Russian Regional Jet (RRJ; first name Sukhoi Superjet 100 — so it is recorded in the certification documents). In 2000, for construction RRJ created the company “Sukhoi Civil aircraft”, two years later, the project officially launched.

RRJ has won the tender, received the state funding. But the peculiarity of the project was that Poghosyan managed to attract foreign companies. American Boeing acted as a consultant. The French company Snecma formed a joint venture with NPO Saturn, PowerJet, to produce engines for the RRJ. Supplier of avionics — Thales (France); the oxygen system, and interior doors undertook to do B/E Aerospace of the United States. A partner in the promotion of the aircraft on foreign markets was the Italian Alenia Aeronautica (created SP with the “Dry” Superjet International and bought 25% plus one share in SCAC).

Gradually came into use, the terms of the global aviation industry: “the wide international cooperation, risk-divided partnership”. There was a feeling that a passenger plane from Russia is able to conquer the world by defeating the competition. The main thing is to build it and spare no money. Poghosyan made it clear that he knows how. The Ministry responded in generous installments. So the Superjet has another name: hope of the Russian aviation industry.

Poghosyan abundantly gave an interview, talking about the benefits of yet non-existent regional aircraft. The two aircraft in the same weight category were at more advanced stages: An-148 had a flying prototype, the Tu-334 was certified. But for the sake of RRJ both pulled the plug. Design Bureau in the USSR was engaged in passenger aircraft “Tupolev”, “Ilyushin” — this situation is not liked. In the end, this has led to debilitating covert wars and categorical dislike of SSJ. Even a survey of the domestic airlines were not in favor of promising innovations. Opponents began to call the Superjet “cuckoo”: pushed all out of the nest and sitting at the trough alone.

But on the side of SSJ was external circumstances: Russia in the early 2000s sought in the world, wanted to prove that strong is not only oil (although it is expensive oil and give the main income, allowing you to do anything). And who came to power Vladimir Putin wanted beautiful success stories. This is not a clear trend to get rid of all of the past Soviet, made the old fashioned way. In this category, for example, treated Tu-334. He disappeared almost immediately.

Poghosyan was confident and optimistic that demand for regional aircraft is increasing rapidly, and global producers, only two — Yes, the canadian Bombardier, Brazilian Embraer; some of Russia and move! The goal looked modern, ambitious and bold, and on the methods of emphasis was trying not to do. In 2005, after pressure from the top Aeroflot became the launch customer for the SSJ, signing a contract for 30 aircraft. A year later, was formed by United aircraft Corporation, which included all design bureaus and aircraft factories of Russia. Poghosyan, managing holding “Dry” — one of the few successful enterprises of the KLA, received the status of Vice-President of the Corporation. Strengthening the position allowed him more aggressively to beat out the resources to SSJ.

In 2007 she completed public presentation of the aircraft (so-called roll-out). The aircraft plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur was attended by high-ranking officials, husbandary, representatives of foreign companies; more than thousand people. Pogosyan did not hide his joy. Then he marked the point of return: it is necessary to sell at least three hundred aircraft (at that time, the firm contracts were 73 aircraft). In 2008, SSJ finally took to the skies, and in 2009 flew to the air show in Le Bourget for the world premiere. SSJ was favored by journalists and greeted quite friendly by experts. The release was a success.

The project was seriously lagging behind the stated terms, has experienced a shortage of money, customers and well wishers. But there was a trump project sympathetic to Putin. Thanks Poghosyan beat the financing, looking for buyers and neutralized the opponents. Instead Pogosyan waited conquered the world.

Three chances

The first and most important altitude for the Superjet was Europe. Decided to go through Italy — no wonder that the partners Alenia Aeronautica plus strong friendship between Putin and Berlusconi. The leaders of the vengeance touting SSJ — praised, photographed in the salon.

In 2010, the national Italian carrier Alitalia has announced a competition for the purchase of twenty regional jets (the amount of the contract was estimated at $ 500 million). Along with options from Bombardier and Embraer said SSJ. The plane still had no certificate, and therefore deposits on commercial flights, that is, no one saw him at work. But in the asset novelties were low cost and administrative resources. Nothing, alas, to no avail: Alitalia chose Embraer, whose aircraft had already used it. “It is a strong blow to the SSJ 100 project,” the almost unanimously favoured market participants.

Poghosyan took the shot. In February 2011 SSJ received a certificate, and he Poghosyan move up the career ladder — he became President of the KLA. In April — almost three years later than expected — the plane was delivered to the airline. But not in Aeroflot, as initially planned, and “Armavia”: Poghosyan decided to test the car at a friendly carrier.

In June of the same year, SSJ embarked on the route Moscow — Saint-Petersburg and Aeroflot. The results of months of operation Superjet was sad: half the time the ship was stranded on the ground due to a failure in the conditioning system. Defective GSS had to pay the fines — so should of the contract with “Aeroflot”.

In spite of that, the Superjet were preparing for the second attempt to conquer the world. Defeat in the West was forced to turn to the East. In 2012, the aircraft went on a tour of Asia to show their product at the place to arrange demonstration flights. In the graph appeared six countries: Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Myanmar, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam. Until the last two SSJ flew on 9 may he crashed near Jakarta, killing 45 people. The investigation revealed that the cause of the tragedy was the human factor, the equipment was serviceable.

© RIA Novosti, Mikhail Cyganowski Salak, where did the plane Superjet-10. Indonesia

The crash has caused strong repercussions and undermined the credibility of the liner. Editor aviaport.ru Oleg Panteleev was trying to reassure: the crash has happened with other innovations, such as the Airbus A320; Aeroflot doesn’t cancel any flights on SSJ, no orders for it; at stake is too much of budget funds, and officials are very necessary to success.

Yuri Lastochkin, the former Director General of NPO “Saturn”, by contrast, was critical: “the True cause of the plane crash in Indonesia <…> is already known. This contradiction <…> meanwhile, how to do the project, and how it actually happens. And while the contradictions between the goals and capabilities will be removed, no shares of the global aviation market we get”.

After the tragedy in Jakarta many passengers to change a ticket if seen in the schedule SSJ. Putin apologized to the Indonesian side, but not a word is said to the families of the victims of the Russians. After a few months he did and spoke about other regional aircraft.

In 2012, ten years after the launch of SSJ is more than ever a question of funding. From a formal point of view, after receipt of the certificate of state support for the SSJ were given. The chamber has said alarming: the plane did not have enough money for full scale production. If you do not find investments, the project will have is going to fold. From an informal point of view it looked as if Putin was disappointed in SSJ, lost interest in him. Actually, hence the obliczania financial flows.

Superjet kept afloat, despite chronic debt. “Aeroflot” is not without difficulty continued to take SSJ. The gift was made by a Mexican carrier Interjet: it is translated into a firm contract option for five aircraft in addition to the fifteen ordered (later the portfolio has become even more). Other potential consumers that appeared, then disappeared.

And then — the Crimea shot down a Malaysian Boeing 777 over Ukraine, the sanctions against Russia. “Foreign” Superjet of advantage turns into a disadvantage: GSS warns about potential problems with the supply of foreign parts.

In 2014, Russia, quarrel with Europe and the United States, quickly becomes friends with Asia. Poghosyan trying to find a pulse — it expresses the talks on deliveries of SSJ in China. We are talking about the party for a hundred aircraft. It is a balm for the soul officials. This is the third attempt Pogosyan to conquer the world. Poghosyan, as always, exudes optimism: “the Plane SSJ dynamically moving market. Taking into account existing and future orders, we plan to reach production capacity of 60 units per year. <…> We are in talks with potential Chinese customers and are quite far advanced in this matter.”

© RIA Novosti, Sergey Guneev | go to Photobacterium JSC “United aircraft Corporation” Mikhail Pogosyan

However, in November 2014 China Airshow Chinese aviation industry in all its glory demonstrated its regional jet ARJ21. And signed on 8 may 2015 agreement on SSJ in the presence of Chinese President XI Jinping and Vladimir Putin, it seems, was covered with dust. The signature raised without Pogosyan: in early 2015, he resigned as President of the KLA. The main problem is not coped with the SSJ project. Read: not conquered the world.

The sunset of hope?

The Superjet, which was positioned as a market commodity, that the market was not very interesting. The image of the conqueror of the world has faded: any Superjet is sold like gold.

Now a little more than 90 SSJ. The liner is in the Park of “Aeroflot” (30 units), the Mexican Interjet (22), Gazpromavia (10), “Yamal” (6), “Yakutia” (5), “Iraero” (5), European CityJet (4). For two aircraft at the presidential flight, emergency, air force Thailand; one operator of business jets, Comlux, the border service of Kazakhstan, “Rusjet” (in the interests of Rostec).

But the number of those who abandoned the aircraft, exceeds the number agreed. No aircraft manufacturer is not immune from failure, but SSJ seem to have hit a record low. On the basis of public messages, for nearly twenty carriers said “no”.

Some of the companies that are signatory to the GSS or already took the plane, went bankrupt: “Armavia”, “AirUnion”, “Dalavia”, “Muscovy”, “Transaero”, “Kuban”, Itali Airlines, Indonesian Kartika, Sky Aviation and Lao Central (Laos), “Center South”, “Buryat airlines”, the Belgian VLM Airlines. The next category is the company alive, but refused for reasons of Economics or policy (in particular because of the sanctions): “UTair”, “ALROSA”, Red Wings, Italian Blue Panorama Airlines, Latvian Air Baltic; and here the Ministry of defense. Further, a category “eternal intent” that airlines from Vietnam, Egypt, Iran, and China (where the certification of the aircraft and the engine can take years, and not the fact that everything will work out).

“The participants [of the project SSJ] — state Corporation. The state allocates the money, the television is a beautiful picture. Plans are equal to the fact of the promises to the existing reality. Accumulate very serious contradictions between the stated plans and the place that actually takes a project”, in 2012, wrote Yuri Lastochkin.

These unpleasant facts is the reality. She’s not struggling with the business plan of 2008, which was pressed down by scale: by 2024, to sell 800 aircraft and to almost three billion dollars of net profit. In 2012, the project had to overcome the breakeven point (remember the words Pogosyan — 300 sold liners). It turned out that at the start of mass production of GSS are going to build 60 aircraft per year, which is comparable to the rate of Embraer and Bombardier. Experts called the business plan is too optimistic. But the participants in the process took with it.

The cost of the project amounted to two billion dollars, told “Vedomosti” in 2013. According to him, 13% were own investments, 20% funding from the Ministry of trade and industry, 67% of the credits (they were given VTB, VEB, Sberbank, you are the state).

In 2015 SCAC debt totaled 109 billion rubles. New customers have a Superjet does not appear. The planes that are in operation, often broken, and spare parts for them go for months. “The breakeven point” distant as another galaxy. VTB, VEB, Sberbank sounding the alarm. And that’s when early care Pogosyan and personal order of Putin to get GSS out of debt. The company approved the state aid to 100 billion rubles.

The adjusted business plan for the Superjet still looks fabulous: sales from 2011 to 2031 year should be 595 aircraft (taking into account already sold is more than 500). Where did this figure? According to the Vice-President of GSS Eugene Andronikova, the government instructed to sell 2016, not less than thirty SSJ annually. This was the condition for the allocation of money from the budget. Then you can not explain.

The order of the officials is fine, but what about the clients? “Aeroflot”, of course, No. 1. The company’s subscribe to twenty Superjet. “We believe that the machine should fly. Who else will put her on the wing? Yes, it certain costs, headache,” admitted in an interview with TASS the General Director “Aeroflot” Savelyev.

A firm contract for thirteen SSJ is in “Yamal”. Eight aircraft waiting for Interjet; the two listed in the contract of the presidential squadron, one air force Thailand and Comlux. Increasingly speak about the creation of the airline “azimuth” — specially for SSJ. According to “Izvestia”, the carrier has interest to hire a dozen aircraft.

In 2016 appeared first European client of SSJ — Irish CityJet. The company has a firm contract for fifteen airplanes; we have to wait another eleven. CityJet loss-making, but its a deal on SSJ-financed the web. “This transaction was the debut for the first time in 50 years in Western Europe is exported serial passenger plane from Russia,” boasts the Chairman of Vnesheconombank Sergey Gorkov. However, the problems with certification on the part of Russia can stop deliveries of the aircraft for CityJet in April.

Will it work on the SCA contract with CityJet, is unknown. But CityJet vengeance makes his SSJ, renting a plane with crew for rent to other carriers. So, on March 26 the first of the three Superjet received Brussels Airlines. The Belgians SSJ rent for two years.

To summarize: the portfolio is not gaining and seventy aircraft. Meanwhile, officials cut funding. The Ministry of economy and Ministry of Finance did not approve the allocation of additional budget funds for the leasing of SSJ. In their opinion, the new deals are not expected, but production program GSS is designed to produce aircraft for the contract from 2015-2016.

Sales of SSJ always actively stimulated by the state. “After relatively large volumes of sales in 2020 can come a deep recession” — fears partner of Strategy Partners Group Artem Malkov.

In the project SSJ disappointed partners. The Italians refuse a blocking stake in GSS, as well as reduce the share in the joint venture Superjet International c 51% to 10%. French are unhappy with the small and unstable number of orders for the engines for the SSJ (due to poor sales of the aircraft). In the outside world have grown competitors SSJ: along with Bombardier and Embraer regional aircraft are trying to do China and Japan. And in Russia, has changed the mood: appreciated all Russian, Russian, Soviet, ours.

SSJ still pull of inertia. This plane is too bright was declared. And it’s not in its technical stuffing, and in the aura that was around him. This plane really was made to believe large and bright. This aircraft had more chances than any other. Give up the dream difficult, especially if it is a dream with debts and obligations.

The most likely scenario is this: the SSJ project quietly closed down after I start to fly the aircraft MS-21. The hope of the Russian aviation industry, take two.