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Russian Aircraft Engines

ALArkhip Lulka
AMAlexander Mikulin
Mmany designers
An airplane is primarily a motor.

Russian design and engineering capabilities with respect to critical components -- engines and avionics -- are not world-class due to the former Soviet approach to the design and production of these systems and a lack of capital to invest in these sectors. Russian engines were traditionally developed under the “safe-life” philosophy, meaning that no systems will fail, but that part life is defined and systems are not repairable, necessitating relatively frequent engine replacement. In a nonmarket economy, the short wing life of Russian engines was not a cause for concern; rather, it maintained employment levels.

In the 1990s Western-made engines and avionics continued to outperform their Russian counterparts in terms of dependability and service life. Russian officials associated with the engine industry report that engine development had improved with more extensive use of computer modeling and modular assembly, and that engine designers and manufacturers are striving for better operating characteristics while retaining high safety standards. As of 1998 Russian engine maker Perm was upgrading its PS-90 LCA engine, using Western parts and components, to better the engine’s time between overhauls, which was currently 1,000-5,000 hours. Western engines typically logged 20,000 hours between overhauls.

The Russian government decided to in June 2007 to publish a draft strategy of the development of gas turbine engines in the country. According to the chief department for aviation industry of the Federal Agency on Industry Evgeny Gorbunov this decision was taken at the session of the interdepartmental working group. The government considered a project of creating two engine-building holdings. First is likely to consist of the largest private enterprises — NPO "Saturn", Perm engine-building complex, the Ufa based engine-building production association (UMPO), Omsk Engine-Building Design Bureau and state run “Research-and-Production Enterprise "Motor". The second holding will include state owned companies “Salute" (Moscow), "Klimov”, the Moscow based machine-building enterprise named after Tchernyshev. The point principle importance is the volume of the state controlled stock in each holding.

Federal Agency on Industry suggested purpose oriented allocation in the three-year budget for the project of creating the perspective family of aviation engines with the thrust between 8 and 20 tons. Allocations from the state budget are offered in several stages, corresponding to a specific stage of R&D. According to different estimations this sum can make about 35 billion rubles. However, the latest changes in national legislation may have still bigger impact on the situation in the industry. According to the new laws now foreign entities in such projects can have “over 75%” interest instead of the formerly allowed "not more than 25 percent".

Traditional partners of the Russian aviation industry the in Ukraine suggested participating in the projects of creating passenger MS-21 and transports. Special session of the bilateral subcommittee on the cooperation in aircraft industries, recently held in Kiev, was dedicated to these matters. In particular, Motor Sich offered D-436 engines for MS-21. The parties again started talking about advantages of joint work.

Moreover, the rumors about possible cooperation and integration between the concern "Aviation of Ukraine" and Russian United Aviation-Building Corporation appeared in the media. Though official formulations remain very cautious, for example, “the companies should initiate this process themselves”. Earlier the head of civil programs Alexander Rubtsov mentioned that integration of the two structures may take place through mutual exchange of shares after independent auditing. Ukrainians preliminary agree with such an approach. This point was discussed in December 2006, during the visit to the Ukraine of the general director Alexey Fedorov.

One more very important event in the sphere of engine building was the expected announcement of the tender on creating the engine of the fifth generation at the order of Ministry of Defense. The “head designer” status now belonging to "Saturn" concerns just the first stage and does not guarantee commissioning of the Rybinsk made engine automatically. The victory in this tender will greatly influence the configuration and structure of the engine building holdings.

The principal decision on integration in the Russian engine-building complex was made on August 11, 2007 at an on-site meeting of the Military Industrial Commission in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin. At that time, it was announced that 40 enterprises of the industry would be consolidated into four centers at the first stage. On the same day, a decree was signed on the organization of FSUE Gas Turbine Engineering Research Center Salyut on the basis of the Moscow FSUE Salyut with the addition of the Omsk enterprise named after Peter Baranov and a number of smaller enterprises.

The second holding was to be formed by merging OAO Klimov (100 % of shares in state ownership) with OAO Moscow Enterprise named after V. Chernyshev. A third holding was ordered to be created by the Samara group of enterprises headed by OAO Samara Scientific and Technical Complex named after N. D. Kuznetsov "(SNTK). Finally, the fourth holding was to be formed by consolidating state-owned blocks of shares in the enterprises of the Perm bush, Rybinsk NPO Saturn and OJSC Ufa Engine-Building Production Association (UMPO). To ensure the entry of NPO Saturn (the state owned only 37% of the shares in it), and also to acquire a controlling stake in the Ufa-based company was charged to OPK Oboronprom.

However, then Oboronprom began to force the restructuring process. As a result, by the decree of the President of the Russian Federation, United Engine Corporation Corporation (UEC) was established, under whose management all state-owned shares in the engine-building enterprises were transferred. (UMPO).

Consolidation in the aircraft engine industry began later than in the aircraft and helicopter industry. However, the Russian government initially took a high rate, and in just a couple of years the main enterprises of the industry were distributed among vertically integrated structures. In parallel, three key areas of work were identified: the engine for the fifth generation fighter, the PD-14 engine family for the MS-21 mainline aircraft, and helicopter engines. But to say that the industry has finally got to firm ground is not necessary: the domestic market remains narrow, enterprises still earn from export contracts, a promising product for long-haul civil aircraft is underfunded and created with delays, and the development of a fifth-generation fighter engine may be delayed for several years.

The "quarrels of the engines", did not cease after the creation of the JDC, but only went into the shadows, making it difficult to objectively assess the prospects for the creation of a new engine. According to the program of creation of the engine of the fifth generation, the figure of about 48 billion rubles, the project means firm orders for decades. The problem is that competing for these orders are far from flourishing enterprises and design bureaus. Despite the fact that NPO Saturn is the center of the UEC, its financial condition is very complicated.

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Page last modified: 04-08-2019 18:54:02 ZULU