Huge, very interesting interview with UAC:
Deputy head of the UAC: we are building up competencies in the construction of military transport aircraft
MAKS-2021, held from 20 to 25 July in Zhukovsky, can rightly be called a landmark for all domestic aircraft. Several new aircraft were demonstrated at once during the airshow. Aviation complex them. S.V. Ilyushin, a member of the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) of the Rostec state corporation, presented the new regional Il-114-300, as well as the Il-76MD-90A transport aircraft and the new Il-78M-90A tanker, which is being created on its basis.
Following the results of MAKS-2021 and on the eve of another large-scale forum - "Army-2021", at which for the first time it is planned to publicly present another new military transport aircraft Il-112V, the TASS correspondent spoke with the first deputy general director of the UAC, and also the managing director PJSC "Il" Sergei Yarkov on the unique transport aircraft "Il" and the prospects for the development of this segment of the Russian aircraft industry.
- Sergey Vladimirovich, tell us more about the new Il-114, what are its advantages. Why is this aircraft so important for the domestic aviation industry?
“For the first time, we demonstrated the Il-114-300 to our potential customers and guests of the air show at a static exposition, showed the capabilities of the aircraft in the air. He participated in the daily flight demonstration program. This aircraft has a very promising niche in the domestic market. This is a small, unpretentious, but at the same time comfortable aircraft for passengers for regional transportation.
I would like to remind you that it is the "Ilyushin" design bureau that has a successful experience in creating aircraft for regional aviation. At one time, one of the flagships of short-haul transportation was the Il-14 turboprop. About 1.4 thousand of these machines were produced. They have found application in almost all industries. It was a workhorse that could be operated in Central Russia, and in remote regions, and even in the Arctic. It had many modifications for various purposes, flew all over the world, it was operated by airlines in two dozen countries, and was mass-produced not only in the USSR, but also in the GDR and in what was then Czechoslovakia. The first versions of the Il-114, developed at the turn of the 80s and 90s, became a natural continuation of this legendary line of regional turboprop aircraft.But radical changes in the country at the turn of the 90s suspended the project.
Today, creating the new Il-114-300, we rely on the existing groundwork, but we are completely modernizing all the systems and equipment of the aircraft, the suppliers of which are mainly Rostec enterprises. In this work, we focus on modern technical requirements and the needs of operators. Efficient after-sales service is a key element. Taking into account the experience of a ten-year operation of the Superjet, as well as in preparation for entering the MS-21 market, we are forming a single effective PPO system for all civilian products, including the Il-114-300. We will use the maximum of developments in this direction.
The aircraft is designed for operation in the regions of the Far North, Far East, Arctic, in conditions from -55 to +45. It can be based both on concrete and unpaved strips. It can even land on a snow and ice strip. Our aircraft is designed in such a way that it can be serviced "from the ground", without the use of additional equipment, which is sometimes not available at small regional airfields. It has a built-in gangway, which also makes it independent of ground infrastructure. Our aircraft will become a workhorse that will replace the "Antonov line" (aircraft developed by the Antonov Design Bureau, which remained in Ukraine after the collapse of the USSR - TASS note). "Anas" are getting old, no longer meet modern requirements,which apply to aviation and safety. Certainly, the new machines will provide more safety.
- And what are the prospects for the supply of this new aircraft for export? What can you offer to a wide range of potential customers?
- We are now discussing this issue quite widely and consider the Il-114-300 as a platform solution, on the basis of which it is possible to implement various projects, including joint development with foreign partners for foreign markets.
With all this, our main task is to satisfy domestic demand, given that an obvious shortage of new aircraft is forming on the regional aviation market due to the obsolescence of the existing fleet. We estimate the demand here at about 100 aircraft, which will be needed in the regions in the next 10-12 years.
Based on these plans, we are preparing our production facilities. We have the opportunity to go into production of 12 aircraft per year from 2025. There is already an interest in the new car from regional airlines. On the sidelines of MAKS-2021, an agreement was signed with GTLK and the Aurora airline for the supply of 19 Il-114-300s to ensure transport accessibility to the regions of the Far East. We plan to start delivering aircraft from 2023.
In addition, we are working with our federal executive authorities, the Ministry of Defense and other departments in a different direction - creating special versions. This will provide additional demand for about 50 aircraft. We are also proactively thinking in the direction of creating a four-engine car.
- What will be the peculiarity of the four-engine car?
- It will also be a platform solution that will provide advanced capabilities. It will be a vehicle of greater range and carrying capacity, but maximally unified with the Il-114-300. This will reduce the time and cost of creation, and in the future, the operator will be able to more efficiently use two platforms simultaneously.
- In theoretical terms, what are the possible options for the layout and operation of the Il-114-300 aircraft?
“Any equipment can be deployed on this platform. You can put the antenna, you can place the equipment on an external sling, you can use the internal space to install the equipment or put up operator stations there. What the customer wants, we will do it.
The fleet of Il aircraft of previous generations is gradually becoming a thing of the past, so the question of how to close the tasks is urgent. The main thing is that the car has already taken place, flew. An active test program is underway, several dozen flights have been made recently.
- Let's switch to the theme of Ilyushin's large planes. What is happening with the IL-96 line, what are the future prospects of this famous giant, and is there any in the 21st century at all ?
- Despite the fact that the outwardly IL-96 hardly changes, like any other foreign classmate, the aircraft is undergoing constant modernization. Now, for example, we have developed and are testing a new modernized digital flight and navigation complex that meets all the accepted ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organization - TASS) standards in terms of navigation and other parameters, which will allow the aircraft to operate without restrictions in any region of the world.
In parallel, we use all the developments in the creation of the Il-96-400M - this is a version with a fuselage extended by more than 9 m (9.35 m) for civil aviation. As for the prospects, structural changes in the market, the appearance of a new engine with increased thrust may become an incentive for the further development of the platform. Therefore, we do not exclude the possibility of creating a twin-engine version of the aircraft. We are waiting for the results of the work of our colleagues from the UEC. And also we do not exclude the greater use of modern materials in the design, for example, the creation of a composite wing.
- That is, as soon as the engine is created, there will be further modernization of the aircraft?
- We are doing everything to be ready for this moment. Then we will look, discuss, make decisions. The Il-96 platform is very reliable, proven and at the same time is in continuous development.
- Let's move on to the military transport segment - the Il-76. Are there plans to further expand the capabilities of this aircraft? The last major modernization is the creation of the Il-76MD-90A. But does it correspond to the real tasks that are entrusted to it?
- Our main customer is the military transport aviation (MTA) of the Russian Federation. Ensuring the characteristics of the aircraft that will meet the tasks of military aviation is our absolute priority. We have begun serial deliveries of Il-76MD-90A aircraft to the Ministry of Defense. At the end of last year, three cars were handed over, this year we will increase the pace. In parallel, we are completing state tests of this aircraft. Thanks to deep modernization, the capabilities of the machine have been seriously expanded: we have increased the carrying capacity from 48 to 60 tons, which allows us to transport and drop additional equipment and cargo. At the same time, the efficiency of motors has increased. The new PS-90A-76 engines are superior in efficiency to the old D-30KP engines. Due to this, the range has increased, which makes it possible to plan transportation much more efficiently. We have supplied a modern airborne defense complex,to provide protection against various means of destruction of the enemy.
The aircraft is equipped with a modern flight and navigation system and an on-board communications system, which allow flying, providing all modern requirements, including civil ones, laying the foundation for possible further certification of a transport operator in a civilian version.
Taking into account the renewal of the fleet, the Il-76MD-90A will become the basis of the military transport aviation. Our priority is to increase the volume of supplies. We need to operate 12 planes a year. The IL-76 platform has been in operation for many years, is constantly developing, and has shown itself to be very good. At the same time, it is very promising, we will discuss its further development. If BTA has additional requirements, we will implement them.
- Are there any opportunities to compensate for the lack of the same An-124 Ruslan due to further modernization of the Il-76?
- Il-76MD-90A and An-124 are vehicles of different classes and sizes. "Ruslan" is designed to transport heavy equipment over long distances, and the Il-76 was originally a vehicle for working in conjunction with the Airborne Forces and solving other tasks of military transport aviation. Therefore, to move, for example, in the direction of further increasing the carrying capacity of the Il-76 to the size of the An-124, in our opinion, is not entirely advisable. It will just be a different plane. But we are working towards the development of super-heavy topics, using the scientific and technical groundwork available in the design bureau.
- Could you comment on how things are going with the development of the VTA PAK - a promising aviation complex for military transport aviation? They talk a lot about him, but is there already some specifics?
- We are working on a promising look with the Ministry of Defense, but I cannot tell you anything more specific due to the specifics of the topic.
- But, in your opinion, what should be its appearance?
- We focus on the customer, we can offer something, we can discuss, but our opinion is not key. We need to talk about the technical feasibility of those requirements that the customer makes.
- If we talk about export and foreign markets for the IL-76, how is their development going, are there any interesting customers, potential proposals? Are you ready to offer something special to a foreign customer?
- We are ready to offer both the aircraft itself and the possibility of joint creation of specialized products on their basis, the implementation of localization programs in the interests of potential customers. Today we offer aircraft with a variety of after-sales service options. Moreover, as manufacturers, we can either fully undertake the maintenance of our equipment, or assist in the creation of the PPO infrastructure and training of personnel. We are following the global trend. The Il-76 is of great interest to our historical customers, all those who operate our aircraft. The Il-76 transporter is known all over the world. This aircraft has an excellent reputation. In total, more than a hundred machines have been exported.
Export versions of the modernized Il-76MD-90A and the Il-78M-90A tanker are of great interest to customers around the world, primarily in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region. Of course, the current operators of the previous generation IL aircraft are showing this interest.
The presence of a large fleet of Il-76 aircraft around the world is an important advantage. This park is in need of maintenance and modernization. For the company, this is an additional resource for ensuring economic sustainability and a groundwork for new supplies. We are actively cooperating with FSMTC and Rosoboronexport to promote our equipment. And I hope that the 76th car in its new guise has a good future.
- What to do with the existing Il-76 parks around the world? Do you have any modernization projects ready?
- We have a so-called modernization package - a set of solutions to improve the aircraft, expand its capabilities and operational characteristics, which we have worked out as part of the modernization programs for the existing Il-76MD aircraft fleet. On its basis, we offer our customers ample opportunities for fleet modernization, including remotorization.
- Let's move on to the small brother of the Il-76 - the newest Il-112V. To what extent can it replace the existing models, the same "Antonov" ones, and can it be used in the harsh conditions of the Arctic and in the desert? What are the prospects?
- Il-112V - this machine was originally created to replace the An-26 fleet. Accordingly, the terms of reference laid down the condition for basing on soils and in any climatic conditions. This machine is maximally adapted to the operating conditions for the Ministry of Defense. But when compared with the An-26, we have expanded the capabilities of this aircraft by increasing the size of the cargo compartment. It has become almost half a meter higher, which makes it possible to transport a large range of goods.
This machine is the first transport aircraft developed by the Ilyushin Design Bureau from scratch in the post-Soviet period. All modern systems are installed on the aircraft, and the solutions are maximally unified for seamless integration into the VTA system during aircraft operation.
And this unification is an important thing. Historically, it so happened that military transport aircraft were developed and produced in the USSR, mostly not on the territory of Russia. And what was developed in Russia, in the Ilyushin Design Bureau, the same Il-76, was produced in Tashkent. Therefore, in fact, we are now recreating the competence in the design and serial construction of military transport aircraft anew. We make all platforms as unified as possible with each other, wherever possible, primarily in terms of the set of equipment, in order to minimize the time for flight crew retraining and facilitate after-sales service.
- Now about technologies. To what extent, in your opinion, will the automation of air transport, including aircraft, reach the state when it will be possible to reduce the crew to a minimum?
- From the point of view of aircraft navigation, in our modern complexes, all the possibilities for piloting an aircraft by a crew of two are realized. But the tasks facing the military transport aviation are much broader, so each crew member performs his own function.
A distinctive feature and an important advantage of our aircraft is its autonomous basing. It happens that a plane arrives at airfields where there is no special infrastructure for servicing. Loading and unloading operations, all operations to prepare the aircraft for flight, even if there is a need to clean the aircraft from snow, are performed by the crew. Therefore, the number of crew members is dictated not only by piloting tasks, but also by the customer's requirements for service autonomy.
- That is, in principle, there are no restrictions? Can you do this now for a commercial customer, for example?
- From the point of view of piloting - there are no restrictions. If we carry out transport tasks for the transportation of goods from an airfield to an airfield, we can reduce the required number of crew members.
- And what about the introduction of domestic avionics? What fundamentally new devices are being prepared for implementation? How did you manage to organize import substitution?
- As for the introduction of new solutions, the modernization of our machines is precisely due to the improvement and renewal of systems and equipment. For example, a new digital flight and navigation system, a glass cockpit on the Il-76MD-90A provided completely different qualities of the machine. The aircraft was created entirely on domestic components.
As for "fundamentally new devices". You see, the UAC transport division does not build supercars. Our main product is reliable and unpretentious transport workers, trucks, capable of guaranteed fulfillment of the task in the most difficult conditions. Therefore, we have a rational and balanced approach here, assessing the need to implement new solutions in conjunction with the project economics. We always seek and find a balance, guided by common sense. The number of innovations must correspond to the need to solve specific problems.
- Do you have projects for the so-called green aviation?
- While this topic is closer to aviation science. But we are ready to act as partners for the implementation of promising projects. Today, the National Research Center "Institute named after NE Zhukovsky" is developing electrical power plants. We are ready to offer the IL-114-300 as a platform for testing new technologies. Therefore, we agreed to coordinate exploratory research in this part.
- You mentioned the composite wing during the discussion of the Il-96. What are your current capabilities for the production of composites, the degree of implementation of such materials?
- If we talk about the prospects, then the existing design, technological groundwork and the unique Russian technology of vacuum infusion, mastered by the Aerocomposite enterprise, on which competencies in the composite wing are concentrated in the UAC circuit, allows us to move towards the development of a larger wing for aircraft of another class - wide-body liners. Composites are a promising material, helping to reduce labor intensity, lighten weight, and achieve other important advantages. This is a modern track that all world manufacturers follow. We are working with composites, we are looking at where they can be applied in existing products, so that this is justified both from a technological and economic point of view. For example, such a seemingly trifle.In the Il-114-300, the elements of the air conditioning system were replaced with composite structures. In addition to the weight advantage, the anti-corrosion effect, this also gave a certain saving in space inside the cabin.
- With regard to corporate transformation and production development. Recently it was announced about the merger of the plants in Ulyanovsk and Voronezh, as well as the integration of OKB Myasishchev into IL. What are the goals of this association and what is the perspective?
- We have built within the extensive co-operation. Take, for example, any project, the same Il-112V - for it, the fuselage panels are made in Ulyanovsk, the fuselage, wing, engine nacelles and tail assembly - in Voronezh, the final assembly is also there. IL-114 - panels, hatches and doors are made in Ulyanovsk, in Voronezh a wing, tail unit and engine nacelles are made. In Lukhovitsy, the airframe elements are docked and the final assembly takes place. The number of internal relationships in the process of implementing any program is simply colossal! Therefore, we bring businesses together to eliminate unnecessary transactions, speed up internal interactions, and ultimately deliver significant cost savings.
- How could you comment on the technical re-equipment of your enterprises? Do you plan to purchase machine tools, introduce domestic technologies? Again, 3D-modeling, VR-technology ( the V irtual the R ealit y - virtual reality - approx Tass.) Now popular - something from this expected?
- Our production is tied to the development of programs and plans to increase the volume of aircraft production that we have. These programs have already been launched with the use of state support funds and our own investments in production.
Large-scale technical re-equipment has been carried out in Ulyanovsk and Voronezh. In Ulyanovsk, it affected all production facilities. A technological breakthrough is a new automated assembly line that uses modern digital technology. This is a domestic development, and such a line was first created in Russia for large transport aircraft. The first aircraft has already completed a full assembly cycle on this line and is now undergoing tests. Let me remind you that we are planning to reach production rates of up to 12 aircraft per year.
We develop and transfer data digitally. The next stage is the use of augmented reality technologies in the assembly of aircraft, which are now being implemented by our colleagues from the Sukhoi company. These technologies help in working with design documentation, eliminate errors, speed up the assembly process and the accuracy of operations. We also plan to implement all this.
At the same time, I emphasize again, it is important to maintain balance in everything and adhere to common sense. The use of innovative solutions and advanced technologies is not an end in itself. It must be economically justified, and the results must be really necessary for the customer, give him tangible usefulness and effectively solve his problems. From the most mundane delivery of military supplies to the execution of important humanitarian missions around the world. For example, our flagship Il-76MD-90A has all the possibilities for this!