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Why Not More Russian Airliners Flying?  
User currently offlineWingscrubber From UK - England, joined Sep 2001, 848 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 5037 times:

Technologically, russian airliners such as those from llyushin and tupolev seem to be as advanced as boeings and airbusses, and yet there seem to be much fewer of them? Why is it there are not more russian airliners amongst the worlds many airlines? Is it due to the russian economy? or is buying aircraft from the former communist superpower a closed market? Or perhaps I'm completely wrong and a. there are lots of them, I'm just unaware, or b. they're flying with dated technology and are outclassed by the boeings/airbusses? Discuss!

I have to go to a 3 hour aircraft technology and materials exam now, wish me luck - hope to see some interesting replies when I return Big grin


Resident TechOps Troll
19 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineBackfire From Germany, joined Oct 2006, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 5026 times:

Older types are not as fuel-efficient, and the newer types such as the Tu-204 have to overcome issues such as Western certification. Not only that, but maintenance organisations are more generally geared to dealing with Western types - that's a critical issue if you're operating outside of a niche area.

[Edited 2006-01-16 14:14:53]

User currently offlineCV747 From Iceland, joined Jan 2000, 170 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 5005 times:

I read in an interview with the CEO of Aeroflot that every flighing hour on a TU-134 cost twice the one of a A320.
He also said that while Russian or Ukraininan manufactured Regional airliners compare well to western models, the Russian aviation industry is miles behing Airbus or Boeing on bigger aircraft such as the 150-200 seat segment and hoplessly lost in the biggest segment, being the IL-86 and IL-96. He said that Aeroflot would pass all IL-96 to their charter service and replace them with Western equipment.

CV747


User currently offlineEHHO From Bulgaria, joined Dec 2005, 815 posts, RR: 7
Reply 3, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 4936 times:

Quoting Wingscrubber (Thread starter):
llyushin and tupolev seem to be as advanced as boeings and airbusses

They were indeed as advanced as A and B.. but only in avionics (the engines were always worse) and even then only cf. their age counterparts, i.e. Tu-154 vs. B727, IL-62 vs. B707, IL-86 vs. A300, etc. There is no match in Russia for any western airliner after 1975.

[Edited 2006-01-16 15:58:11]


"Get your facts first. Then you may distort them as much as you please" -- Mark Twain
User currently offlineLightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12981 posts, RR: 100
Reply 4, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 19 hours ago) and read 4910 times:
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Quoting Wingscrubber (Thread starter):
Technologically, russian airliners such as those from llyushin and tupolev seem to be as advanced as boeings and airbusses, and yet there seem to be much fewer of them?

Mostly, its MX. Russian planes were designed for operation in a system that has internal passport control. (Read this as turn times in hours.)

But its also fuel burn. At $65/bbl airlines aren't very forgiving. The Russian airframes are advanced, but recall all of the weight they have added to deal with the Russian winter and runway conditions. Extra wheels look neat, but at FL360, they're just added weight in the plane's belly.

Quoting CV747 (Reply 2):
He said that Aeroflot would pass all IL-96 to their charter service and replace them with Western equipment.

A shame. The IL-96 is considered the most competitive Russian airliner by some.

Lightsaber



Societies that achieve a critical mass of ideas achieve self sustaining growth; others stagnate.
User currently offlineYukonTrader From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 207 posts, RR: 6
Reply 5, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 4854 times:

Hi Wingscrubber

there's a few pecularities about Russian airliners that need to be taken into account:

1) In the Sovjet planned economy, aviation was an important key area of the so-called "military-industrial-complex" and as such it had lots of state support in the allocation of ressources (manpower and materials), but on the other side of the coin, it was also subject to operate in a classified environment.

2) For strategic reasons, the Sovjets separated the design process of any aircraft from its manufacturing. Antonov, Ilyushin, Tupolev or Yakovlev are design bureaus, and not manufacturers. I.e. these famous instances are in charge of developing new aircraft types, from the drawing phase to and including the building and testing of the first prototypes.

Apart from this task, the designers are not directly involved in the mass production of their designs. Once a type was considered ready for market introduction, the Sovjets allocated the actual manufacturing of an aircraft type to one of the many aircraft factories spread all over the huge country. A lot of them were and still are located in towns and cities behind the Ural, where the Sovjets considered the factories save from "imperialistic attacks" - they had learned their lesson from WW-II when the Germans occupied the traditionally more industrialised Western and Southwestern parts of the USSR.

3) Unfortunately, the same also goes for maintenance, as Heavy Maintenance is usually carried out either by the factory that originally built the airliner, or designated "aircraft overhaul factories". The result is that the same factory might be building or maintaining Tupolev airliners on one line, and Sukhoi fighters on the next line.

This basic structure of the industry never changed in the post-Sovjet times. Except for the complication that some desing bureaus and factories suddenly found themselves in different countries of the CIS (Antonov is now Ukrainian, the Tashkent Aircraft Production Organization TAPO - which builds Il-76s - is now in Uzbekistan and so on...) Thus customs and hard currency suddenly began to play a role as well in the already stretched-out production process.

5) Now about the output of the design bureaus: If one thing deserves to be admitted, then the fact that aerodynamically, the Russian airliners are among the best-designed aircraft of the world. Yet, one also has to admit that this often is their only real strength. The powerplants usually lag way behind Western counterparts, and most if not all Russian airliners are really really massive, and thus heavy.

6) True, that massivenes makes them so sturdy that you can land an Il-62 on a grass runway (it happened) or take-off with an Il-76 from any reasonably flat frozen area of water (it happened). But it often imposes a fatal penalty on payload vs. range. I recall discussing with a Western based integrator's representative about using the B757F vs. the Tu-204-120S (the freighter version with Rolls Royce engines & Western avionics). He told me they had indeed evaluated the Tu-204S - until they realised that they could either carry a little over half of the tonnage the B757F would carry on the 6-7hrs segment in question, or else they'd have to set the 204 down for a fuel stop halfway into the flight...

The high dead weight and the inefficiency of the power plants are - so we are told - both a result of the Sovjet metallurgy not being able to reproduce the kind of light and sturdy metalls developed for use in the Western air & space industry. I bet they spied and tried hard, but they didn't manage to handle the processes and temperatures involved.

7) A fore-poster has already mentioned maintenance in general as one factor speaking against Russian airliners. Maintenance can be done on almost any type, if you are willing to send it back to where it came from, and to wait 3 months, 4 months, half a year for the beast to come back with a new lease on life on it.

Of course, that will only happen if you are willing to pay first (otherwise the factory cannot buy the necessary parts!). Same for ordering a freshly built airframe: Once you forge over the money, the factory can start working on your plane...

As a side note: Back in the Sovjet times, before sending a bird to heavy maintenance, you better also took out any custom items - such as advanced avionics you had upgraded your airframe with - as the factory would send your bird back in pristine condition. Without your gadgets, that means. Ask any former Interflug mechanic about the "Carl Zeiss" built precision instruments they installed in their Tu-134A. After the first one came back from MX with the old Russian instruments re-installed, Interflug Technik had learned a lesson...

8) Speaking about instruments, that leads me to a final point which makes it difficult to find customers for CIS airliners outside of their traditional markets. I can understand that few airlines outside of the USSR wanted to fly the older types that all feature 3-man or 4-man cockpits with metric gauges in Cyrillic...

Hope there's some food for thought in the post, cheers, Lukas


User currently offlineJascmil From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 54 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 4836 times:

Quoting YukonTrader (Reply 5):
Hope there's some food for thought in the post

Thank you for a very informative post -- food for thought, indeed!

Cheers!


User currently offline777fan From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 2496 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 4785 times:

Oh, and assuming your Russian bird isn't able to stay trouble-free in terms of MX, I'm guessing that finding parts wouldn't be very easy (or cheap). I only know two people that have flown on Russian aircraft (Il-62 and Tu-154), both of whom are experienced fliers. They nonetheless claimed they were uneasy throughout the flight as both aircraft creaked, rattled and chugged their way from point A to B.

Fuel efficiency and technology aside, in my opinion, the biggest detraction from Russian airliners is the perception (rightly earned or otherwise) that post-Soviet heavy goods are no better in terms of quality and dependability than their Cold War counterparts. Afterall, Aeroflat's orders for Boeing and Airbus aircraft isn't exactly a ringing endorsement for Tupelov or Ilyushin.



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User currently offlineWingscrubber From UK - England, joined Sep 2001, 848 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4714 times:

Wow...thanks guys, fantastic replies, I guess I didn't realise the full depth of the issue...
So, the main factors are-
-The older aircraft are generally heavier and less fuel efficient
-They have less advanced avionics
-They have acceptance issues with western aviation
-The powerplants are less advanced
-Advanced engineering materials are more difficult to source
-Maintenance is carried out by the manufacturers
-Supply infrastructure dates back to WW2

I do admire the aeronautical engineering prowess of the russians, they've made some amazing aircraft in the past, they've produced some impressive modern fighting aircraft too like the Migs and Sukhois. I suppose if it's more cost effective for airlines to use western aircraft like boeings and airbusses then the russian airliners are no competition...



Resident TechOps Troll
User currently offlineYukonTrader From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 207 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 4645 times:

Hi 777 fan,

Quoting 777fan (Reply 7):
I only know two people that have flown on Russian aircraft (Il-62 and Tu-154), both of whom are experienced fliers. They nonetheless claimed they were uneasy throughout the flight as both aircraft creaked, rattled and chugged their way from point A to B.

I've flown on a lot of Russian types in the past few years, mostly on guided tours to Siberia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and the likes. Only things I'm missing so far are the Il-18, Yak-42 and Il-96.

From a passenger point of view, I found all the types simply look old, in any respect (seats, bins, installations, toilets etc.): Seventies at the best. Only exception was a Tu-134 of Yamal Airlines which was re-fitted with an Airbus-style cabin - their base is an oil-rich town in Northern Siberia, so they do have money to burn. You porbably agree, many passengers make the wrong equation "old = unsafe", without asking themselves how an unsafe airplane could ever become old...

I never felt unsafe on those old Russian workhorses. They rather fly stable as a brick - and you know the old saying that even a brick flies if you apply enough power... Actually, the Tu-134 and Tu-154 are among the best "turbulence riders" I've ever seen.

I once felt uneasy though, on a flight from Almaty, Kasachstan, back to Moscow. It was operated by a carrier - no names here, but it was not Aeroflot - which used a pre-owned and somewhat worn Western aircraft on said route. It seems the pilots didn't trust the autopilot, the 4.5 hour flight was entirely done by hand, with lots of sudden and noticeable adjustments. It wasn't comforting either to notice after 90 minutes into the flight that one latch holding the engine cowling of No. 1 in place was obviously in its open position. Yeah, there are more latches and those were in the locked position, but if you hear a professional A330 captain among the pax in the cabin say "holy s***" when directed towards the issue, then you start feeling a bit tense...

So... When it comes to fly one of the small, independend carriers in the CIS, then book me on any Antonov, Tupolev or Ilyushin - because they know how to fly them. I prefer them over a Western aircraft which might be maintained and flown "the Russian way".

Lukas


User currently offline777fan From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 2496 posts, RR: 2
Reply 10, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 4569 times:

Quoting YukonTrader (Reply 9):
So... When it comes to fly one of the small, independend carriers in the CIS, then book me on any Antonov, Tupolev or Ilyushin - because they know how to fly them. I prefer them over a Western aircraft which might be maintained and flown "the Russian way".

Cool stories! Your point is valid - many people often do equate old with unsafe. That said, I'd still rather see one on the ground than in the air! A number of accidents in the past few years (simulataneous midair bombings, child in the cockpit disengaging autopilot, Il-76 and 747 midair collision) haven't helped overcome the perception that Russian aviation is suffering post-Cold War "growing pains".



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User currently offlineHAWK21M From India, joined Jan 2001, 31667 posts, RR: 56
Reply 11, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 1 day 1 hour ago) and read 4433 times:

Quoting Wingscrubber (Thread starter):
Technologically, russian airliners such as those from llyushin and tupolev seem to be as advanced as boeings and airbusses,

What about Fuel consumption  Smile
regds
MEL



Think of the brighter side!
User currently offlineYukonTrader From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 207 posts, RR: 6
Reply 12, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 22 hours ago) and read 4356 times:

Hi 777 fan,

Quoting 777fan (Reply 10):
A number of accidents in the past few years (simulataneous midair bombings, child in the cockpit disengaging autopilot, Il-76 and 747 midair collision) haven't helped overcome the perception that Russian aviation is suffering post-Cold War "growing pains".

no doubt, but in my perception, the worst of these pains seem to be a thing of the past, and consolidation in the CIS airline industry during the 1990s has helped overcome some of the worst "Wild West" - or shall we say "Wild East" mentalities.

Currently, the accident rate in the former Sovjet Union seems not terribly different from other parts of the world. A quick check on Harro's Aviation Safety Net reveals the following for 2005:

Total occurances in the database for 2005:
Occurances involving "former East Bloc"(1) airliners: 29
Of these 28, occurances in the CIS: 6
Occurances in other parts of the world(2): 23

(1) this also includes Let 410s, sorry to the Czech's here for putting them into the same pot, statistically.

(2) Many accidents involving "Eastern" airliners in 2005 happened with operators in Africa (11), South America (8), the Middle East (3). Add Asia (1) and Central Europe (1).


This statistical spread of accidents across the global regions(2) is not much different from accidents with Western types, btw. Furthermore, political factors, problems with unreliable communications, weather and terrain play more of a role in these statistics than the make of aircraft involved...

However, to continue the thread, there have been some technical problems with Eastern aircraft. In the Sovjet times, little news about airplane crashes and their reasons made it to the West - unless Westerners were among the victims, or publicity was huge, like with the Tu-144 crash in Paris.

For example, it is relatively little known that the Sovjet aircraft industry suffered a really massive blow - similar to DeHavillands failure with the Comet 1 - with the Antonov An-10 "Ukraina" which we could call the passenger version of the well known An-12 transport (if we simplify things a little). Or to give you another idea: Imagine a four-engined An-8 with passenger windows. It entered service in 1959, followed by the stretched An-10A a year later.

It has come to light much later that no less than 12 An-10 - out of a total of 108 built - broke up in mid air due to fatigue of the wingspar (vibrations?) while in revenue service, ultimately resulting in the grounding of the aircraft type in 1973, after a crash with a full load of children which not even the Sovjets could hide from their own people.

After the political changes and the fall of the iron curtain, commercial aviation in Russia had to live through another difficult phase. The former monolith Aeroflot - which always had internal divisions and departments called "directorates" - was broken into what was back then called the "Babyflots": All directorates became independend airlines, and many regions and business people tried to grab their share and start a little one-plane-one-route airline of their own.

At the same time, money was rare, and spares even harder to find. Many an airline had to life "from hand to mouth" so to say. In the early 1990s, many crashes that happened in the CIS were symptomatic of these problems. As unbelievable as it sounds, for example, it seemed common practice that crews over-sold their own flight on the grey or black market both for cargo and passengers, somehow fitting in 1.5 times the legal load. One of the most unbelievable cases is the one of a Yak-40 which crashed into a river on take-off in Tajikistan in 1993. It was configured for 28 passengers, but had as many as 86 (eighty six!) souls on board, including some armed men which forced the crew to finally take off and make that flight.

This kind of Russian Roulette is hopefully over for good now...

Cheers, Lukas


User currently offlineEHHO From Bulgaria, joined Dec 2005, 815 posts, RR: 7
Reply 13, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 21 hours ago) and read 4288 times:

Quoting 777fan (Reply 10):
Il-76 and 747 midair collision

Do you have more info, 777fan?

YukonTrader, thanks for the great insights and wonderful posting! Welcome to my RU list!



"Get your facts first. Then you may distort them as much as you please" -- Mark Twain
User currently offlineAlessandro From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 14, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 20 hours ago) and read 4241 times:

Well, money talks in many ways, Airbus and Boeing can fund throu friendly banks, if major airlines want to buy/lease airplanes, the Russian/Ukrainan manufacturer aren´t in that position. Also other economical reasons like
supply of spareparts play a role.


User currently offlineLightsaber From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 12981 posts, RR: 100
Reply 15, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 4219 times:
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Quoting YukonTrader (Reply 5):
The high dead weight and the inefficiency of the power plants are - so we are told - both a result of the Sovjet metallurgy not being able to reproduce the kind of light and sturdy metalls developed for use in the Western air & space industry.

First, excelent post. But if I may nitpick, the Russians had trouble designing the aero efficiency (lack of computers) and the Nickel. (The USSR was late in getting single crystal.) With Aluminum, their grades were similar enough... (But just enough off to have slightly worse corosive properties.) But where they were WAY ahead was Titanium. The western industry is still hiring up Soviet engineers who specialized in Titanium (mostly metallurgy and welding specialists).

The worst part of Soviet engines is their utter lack of design for matainence. Man were those things scary. When I designed fuel injectors for Pratt, the setup had to be one man servicible in 20 minutes by a tech in NBC gear. (NBC gear was considered worse than any winter clothing.) As I pointed out before, with internal passport control, there was no need for quick turn times and so Russian airliners have notorous turn times.

Quoting YukonTrader (Reply 12):
It has come to light much later that no less than 12 An-10 - out of a total of 108 built - broke up in mid air due to fatigue of the wingspar (vibrations?) while in revenue service,

Tragic. One other point, Soviet airliners are not designed for the same number of cycles as Western airliners. Again, an artifact of designing an airframe in an environment of very slow turn times.

Lightsaber



Societies that achieve a critical mass of ideas achieve self sustaining growth; others stagnate.
User currently offlineGearup From Canada, joined Dec 2000, 578 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 18 hours ago) and read 4187 times:

Hi YukonTrader,

Awesome posts man, some very good information there, makes a lot of sense.

GU



I have no memory of this place.
User currently offlineYukonTrader From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 207 posts, RR: 6
Reply 17, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 4105 times:

Thanks EHHO, Lightsaber - especially for the additional input regarding their metallurgy - and Gearup!

Quoting EHHO (Reply 13):
Quoting 777fan (Reply 10):
Il-76 and 747 midair collision

Do you have more info, 777fan?

In a nutshell, 12 November 1996: Saudia Flight 763, operated by B747-168B HZ-AIH, collided mid-air at FL 140 with Air Kazakhstan 1097, Il-76TD UN-76435, circa 30 miles from Delhi's Indira Ghandi Airport. 312 fatalities, no survivors.

Lukas


User currently offlineAlessandro From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 18, posted (8 years 7 months 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 4056 times:

Yukon, the AN-10 was the passenger version of AN-8, not the AN-12.

User currently offline777fan From United States of America, joined Jan 2006, 2496 posts, RR: 2
Reply 19, posted (8 years 7 months 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 3947 times:

Quoting EHHO (Reply 13):
Do you have more info, 777fan?

Sure do! Here you go: http://atcguild.com/disasters/midair.asp



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