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Why Don't Western Airlines Buy Russian Planes?  
User currently offlineAussie_ From Australia, joined Dec 2000, 1766 posts, RR: 5
Posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6141 times:

OK, we all know the reputation of russian aircraft and of russian airlines.

Such a reputation WAS well deserved but no longer is.

I don't pretend to know much about Russian aircraft production, but what I have read suggests that there are some superb new aircraft models available (Il-96, Tu-204 etc) with western engines and avionics.

I know the major problem is image, but will a major western airline ever purchase such an aircraft (perhaps saving large amounts of money, especially when considering the strength of the USD) and make the effort to market it as a safe, reliable, comfortable aircraft????

I personally would love to see it. But it is probably wishful thinking.

20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineHlywdCatft From United States of America, joined Jan 2001, 5321 posts, RR: 7
Reply 1, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 17 hours ago) and read 6071 times:

Actually they do. A British Cargo company called Heavylift leases An-124s and Il-76s from Russia.

User currently offlineAerokid From Belgium, joined Jun 2000, 348 posts, RR: 1
Reply 2, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 6053 times:

Yes they do, TNT Airways is currently using 2 cargo versions of the Tu-204. They considered buying up to 8 Tu-204s for replacement of their ageing Boeing 727s.

HOWEVER, a number of reasons have delayed the decision and I doubt that they will go on with the project (they are currently looking at the Boeing 757 or the Airbus A310).

1) The production rate of the aircraft is very low, if they had ordered 8 aircraft, it would take until 2006 before the last aircraft was delivered.

2) The long term maintenance support is questionable, as is the availability of spares for the entire life cycle of the aircraft.

3) I don't know the crew config for the Tu-204 but for an An-124 there are 6 people in the cockpit. With the high wages in Europe (and even higher taxes in Belgium) it is not the most profitable aircraft to operate.

A fourth reason is, like you already mentioned, image. For cargo operations that doesn't matter that much off course but I think you're not gonna see a russian aircraft in passenger service at a western carrier very soon.

The only reason Heavylift keeps the An-124 flying (in the near future maybe even an An-225!) is because they are specialized in oversized payloads and the An-124 is after all one of the biggest aircraft in the world. The Il-76s will be banned from European airspace soon because it is a stage-2 aircraft.

Best regards,
GR.


User currently offlineSoku39 From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 1797 posts, RR: 9
Reply 3, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 6035 times:

IMAGE Thats a big reason. Most people are uninformed a don't know how well built some Russian aircraft are, and don't know some of the excellent safety recprds of new types. The passengers might look at the planes as being old and out dated, sometimes a main selling point to Western Airlines is have modern and passenger appealing fleets.


The Ohio Player
User currently offlineAlpha 1 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 6024 times:

Even if they have some decent aircraft, why would you choose a product that is obviously not up to par with Boeing or Airbus?

User currently offlineAussie_ From Australia, joined Dec 2000, 1766 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 15 hours ago) and read 6006 times:

I was in general referring to passenger airlines. You're right about cargo carriers.

I think the Tu-204 has a 2 person flightdeck, at least as an option, but correct me if I'm wrong.

The delivery delay may be a problem as with the spares issue as well.

However, although I have no doubt Airbus and Boeing are superb, it doesn't necessarily mean they are better. They may well be but don't discount russian technology etc, or any other country's technology for that matter, just because of the image problem.

Another point: I remember speculation a few years back about a European passenger carrier (charter I think) seriously considering the Tu-204, though I don't think they bought any. Does anyone know more???


User currently offlineUnited Airline From Hong Kong, joined Jan 2001, 9107 posts, RR: 15
Reply 6, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 14 hours ago) and read 5989 times:

Not everyone in this world are aviation enthusiasts like we are. Most people just have the image on Russian Airliners that they have backward technology as well as horrible safety record.

They just don't trust Russian Aircraft. Airlines have to care about what their customers think.

Hope that answers your question.  Smile


User currently offlineYak42 From Ireland, joined Oct 2000, 800 posts, RR: 6
Reply 7, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5949 times:

Customers would'nt notice what the nationality of the manufacturer was. Even if they did, most passengers (european anyway) would accept the carriers wisdom in their choice of aircraft. So I dont agree with this image problem, aircraft are different than cars here. I think the problem would be more to do with risk on a number of concerns including customer support. But if I had a western airline I know what I would buy.

User currently offlineKALB From United States of America, joined Mar 2000, 573 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5940 times:

I would think the PW engined, Honeywell EFIS equipped IL-96 has potential somewhere in the western market. Frankly, I think Boeing and Airbus need more competition, and I think the Russians should take them on.

User currently offlineSkippy208 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5938 times:

Because Western airlines have a preference for aircraft that remain in the sky.

Skippy


User currently offlineScottB From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 6579 posts, RR: 32
Reply 10, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 10 hours ago) and read 5926 times:

There are a number of reasons you don't see Russian aircraft flying for Western airlines:

* Historical safety record. Russian/Soviet jet aircraft have what is believed to be a considerably poorer record of safety over the past 40 years. It's hard to get any real definitive numbers, though, since the Soviet government tended to cover up embarassing things like planecrashes or nucler meltdowns when possible.

* Image. Ex-Soviet/Russian jet aircraft are associated in most people's minds with poor Soviet-era service and reliability, as well as with the (in many cases questionable) third-world carriers that operate them today. By the same token, most Westerners would be hesitant today to board a DC-8 or 707, and some feel uncomfortable with DC-10's even though their historical safety record is actually pretty good.

* Fleet availability and commonality. Western airlines, as a matter of course, have purchased Western jet aircraft over the past 40 years, and adding to their fleets of an existing type is more economical for many than adding an additional fleet type from Russia. Moreover, most of the airliner models available from Boeing and Airbus offer a variety of sizes within the same family/type rating. And, as others have said, if you're looking to order 30 or 40 with delivery over a 2-year period, that might be a tough order to fill with the Russian manufacturers.

* Questions regarding long-term viability of the Russian manufacturers. McDonnell-Douglas was dogged by this problem as well - they didn't have the financial resources to compete with Boeing or the European-government-backed Airbus, so it was unclear if there would be long-term support for new aircraft purchased from MDC.

* Lack of data on the newer models from Russian manufacturers - i.e. performance/economics, reliability, safety, etc. Western engines and avionics aren't the only important factors - you also have to consider all the other systems in the aircraft and the cost of maintenance. They're caught in a bit of a Catch-22 - they need a track record to attract customers, and yet how do you build a track record without customers?


User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6291 posts, RR: 54
Reply 11, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 9 hours ago) and read 5899 times:

Why Don't Western Airlines Buy Russian Planes?
Let us turn that question around a little:
Why do Russian airlines almost only buy/lease western planes?
Or:
Why did ALL eastern European airlines rush out and buy/lease western planes (and scrap all their Russian stuff) as soon as they could?
They all had the choise to replace old Soviet stuff with "modern" Russian products at half the price of western products.

Those of us, who don't know the details, can only guess why. But it is obvious that the reason must be related to vastely inferiour qualities on one or more of the main performance figures:
1. reliability
2. maintainability
3. overall operation economy.

There is simply something which we don't know.
Modern airliners are very complicated products which build on enormous amounts of technical experience and knowhow. I think that few people realize how vastely inferiour the old Soviet airliners are (were) compared to ordinary modern products. The new Russian airliners did catch up, no doubt about that, but how much did they catch up? 20%, 50% or 80%? And how much time and effort is needed to catch fully up? That's the big question.

Politics at least for the time being has put a serious disadvantage on them. While Boeing and Airbus will never experience serious problems attracting risk willing investments in their new products, then with the present economic climate in Russia practically nobody is willing to risk a penny in any Russian industry.

Also as long as they are still fighting a civil war, then some new high profile large scale industry being built up would be prone to be blow up by terrorists/freedom fighters, whatever you call them.

Best regards, Preben Norholm



Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
User currently offlineBrissie_lions From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 5897 times:

OK, we all know the reputation of russian aircraft and of russian airlines.

A reputation that is formed because of ill-informed and nationalistic biase.

Such a reputation WAS well deserved but no longer is

WAS well deserved? I beg to differ. Please explain why the reputation was deserved.

Actually they do. A British Cargo company called Heavylift leases An-124s and Il-76s from Russia

Not anymore they don't. HeavyLift-Volga Dnepr Ltd has been disbanded and Volga Dnepr is doing all of their own operations and marketing. HeavyLift is looking at tying up with Air Foyle.

Yes they do, TNT Airways is currently using 2 cargo versions of the Tu-204. They considered buying up to 8 Tu-204s for replacement of their ageing Boeing 727s.

TNT doesn't actually operate the Tu-204. These aircraft are operated on a demonstration basis by a UK company called AirReps. TNT have expressed an interest in diligence on the Tu-204 however.

Because Western airlines have a preference for aircraft that remain in the sky.

Nice comment Skippy. Totally uninformed and idiotic.

* Historical safety record. Russian/Soviet jet aircraft have what is believed to be a considerably poorer record of safety over the past 40 years.

The "historical" safety record of Russian aircraft is no worse than the "historical" record of Boeing and Airbus aircraft.


The biggest things holding back Russian aircraft are:

1) The aircraft are not up to the standards of Boeing and Airbus aircraft in the area of passenger "comfort" and entertainment....it is all about entertainment these days.

2) The sales support network is non-existent. For Russian airliners to "take-off" the manufacturers need to set-up shop in Africa, maybe Ireland, and somewhere in Latin America and South-East Asia.


User currently offlinePrebennorholm From Denmark, joined Mar 2000, 6291 posts, RR: 54
Reply 13, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 5880 times:

Aehhh Brissie-Lion, you haven't been around where Russian airliners are (or rather "were") operated. And you obviously never flew on one.
Go and tell your own Qantas to buy a bunch of them.

Don't get me wrong, I really do hope that as soon as possible Russian industry will become a third player in this important market. But unfortunately it won't happen any time soon, at least not within the present decade.

Best regards, Preben Norholm



Always keep your number of landings equal to your number of take-offs, Preben Norholm
User currently offlineScottB From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 6579 posts, RR: 32
Reply 14, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 5860 times:

Thanks for the quote out of context, Brissie_lions. I was VERY careful not to say that the safety record was actually worse or better; I said that that is the general perception. And often perception is more important than reality. We really have no clue what the safety record of Soviet jet aircraft (on internal flights) from 1960-1990 was like - that sort of information was routinely suppressed by the government, unlike the voluminous safety data available on Western aircraft.

And yes, all other things being equal, it is all about comfort and service. If I have the choice of two itineraries on competing airlines with the same or nearly equal fares, I'll take the one with better reliability, then better service.


User currently offlineDeltAirlines From United States of America, joined May 1999, 8868 posts, RR: 12
Reply 15, posted (13 years 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 5848 times:

I don't think that they US airlines will be getting any soon because we still have some problems with Russia, especially espionage that is destroying US-Russia relationships.

Jeff


User currently offlineBrissie_lions From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 16, posted (13 years 3 weeks 3 days 18 hours ago) and read 5821 times:

Prebennorholm

Modern airliners are very complicated products which build on enormous amounts of technical experience and knowhow.

Preben, this is very true.

I think that few people realize how vastely inferiour the old Soviet airliners are (were) compared to ordinary modern products.

Inferior compared to what and how? Just how inferior was is the Tu-154M when you compared it to the 727? Although they are basically in the same class of aircraft, the Tupolev was required to operate from airports from which the 727 would never have been able to operate from.

Given, Russian aircraft were not as comfortable as their "western" counterparts, but they were operating in vastly different conditions to those Boeing and Airbus aircraft flying in the "west".

The new Russian airliners did catch up, no doubt about that, but how much did they catch up? 20%, 50% or 80%? And how much time and effort is needed to catch fully up? That's the big question.

I give Russian aviation about 15 years to really start getting sales on the international civil aviation market.

Also as long as they are still fighting a civil war, then some new high profile large scale industry being built up would be prone to be blow up by terrorists/freedom fighters, whatever you call them.

Preben, you have quoted this before on a few occasions. Let me get this straight for you. There is no civil war in Russia. The Chechnya situation is not actually classed as a civil war, but rather fighting against the illegal secession of Chechnya from the Russian Federation.

I have also noticed that you have said on a few occasions that you would not fly Aeroflot due to terrorist concerns. I laugh everytime I have seen you write this. Take note of how many Aeroflot aircraft have been hijacked by Chechen/Ingueshian terrorists? None. They have gone for airlines which have lax security, from airports where security is easily violated, or airports where it has been claimed the local authorities (i.e. the Turks in the recent Vnukovo airlines hijack) have done nothing after receiving warnings.

Aehhh Brissie-Lion, you haven't been around where Russian airliners are (or rather "were") operated. And you obviously never flew on one. Go and tell your own Qantas to buy a bunch of them.

I have been around a few Russian aircraft in my time. It is just unfortunate I live in Perth, where every visit by a Russian/Ukrainian/Uzbek aircraft is greatly appreciated.

And as to having flown on Russian aircraft, I beg to differ. I have flown on a small variety of types, including a Transaero An-124 on a very small flight (15 minutes). But as for comfort on board the aircraft, I have found nothing majorly wrong with the Il-62, Tu-154 or Tu-134. The Tu-134 is just a tad uncomfortable, but I would have no problem lying one again over the sectors for which the aircraft was built.

As for making QF buying Russian aircraft....hell....if I was the CEO of QF I would seriously consider the Tu-204/Tu-214/Tu-334 for domestic operations, and the Il-96M for international, but not with Perm PS-90A engines (which have been experiencing some problems, especially as of late). I would also do some minor upgrading of the aircraft interiors. But apart from that, there is not much that needs doing.

As Filyov, the general-director of Sibir Airlines, based in Novosibirsk, stated on the Tu-204

It is still too early to say. If we were buying a Boeing or an Airbus, we would know we are buying a finished product. When we buy a Tu-204, we are buying a headache. But this headache costs so little that we look at it and think, maybe it's worth trying it out. Theoretically, the plane's economics make it profitable on routes of 5,000 kilometers. In practice, we are flying 3,000 kilometers with it. Of course, its effectiveness is lower, but it is still there. For this distance, the most effective plane in the world is a [Soviet-built] Tu-154M, thanks to its cost. The cost of the airplane plus its user costs are still less than the loan payments-plus-interest you would pay for the latest generation of airplanes.

It is probably for this reason that Russian aircraft will find their footing in Africa, South-East Asia and the Middle East (and maybe Latin America) before they make breakthroughs in the European, North American and Australia markets.

Cheers

Scotty
Aviatsiya/Авиация


User currently offlineMEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4265 posts, RR: 34
Reply 17, posted (13 years 3 weeks 3 days 17 hours ago) and read 5806 times:

About the safety of Russian airliners; a huge lot of information on earlier accidents has been unearthed in the last 10 years, due to the factories and airlines opening up their files and registers to spotters, journalist and the other public. Check out the complete production histories in the wonderful book "Soviet Transports" or on the website www.airlinerlist.com , and all major crashes are documented. For instance, I'm 100% sure there has never been an Il-86 (Russian jumbo) crash. Why not? All the aircraft built are regularly seen or their scrapping is documented. There have been quite some Tu-154 and Il-18 crashes but most were not to blame the airframe, and not the aircraft aimed at selling (of the 727 and Electra generation).

(High five to Brissie, for his reaction after the assumption/insinuation of being an ignorant Aussie about Russian stuff, hehehe !)



nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
User currently offlineGOT From Sweden, joined Dec 2000, 1912 posts, RR: 1
Reply 18, posted (13 years 3 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 5792 times:

The main reason for an airline NOT to operate Russian aircraft, atleast as I think, would be the image. When people board the aircraft they want to feel safe. Many people, don't ask my why, would say that a russian airliner would be less safe then a western one. Well, some of them are, but I think the Tu-204 and such aircraft would have made a succes if they only where produced in west. It will take a long time before people will trust things that comes from Russia, and that's sad because Russia needs to export more to the west if there economy should come up to normal standard.

GOT



Just like birdwatching - without having to be so damned quiet!
User currently offlineBrissie_lions From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (13 years 3 weeks 3 days 16 hours ago) and read 5787 times:

Howdy Servaas

I don't suppose you know where we can find a production list for the Il-62, Il-76, Il-86 and the Yak-42 from at all?

Been looking for them for quite a while.

I suppose I can always start asking around with people in Russia I know, but that will take ages in getting responses.

Let me know matie.

Cheers

Scotty
Aviatsiya/Авиация


User currently offlineMEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4265 posts, RR: 34
Reply 20, posted (13 years 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 5774 times:

The authors and some contributors of the Soviet Transport book have had insights in official files on these aircraft. This book contain complete lists of some and very accurate estimations with only small omissions left of other aircraft.
I am working on these lists (apart from the Il-76) and will add them to my site www.airlinelist.com in the future. The Yak within 3 weeks! The Il-62/86 maybe in a few months.
I was hesitant for a while to add more Russian stuff because of the Soviet Transport book which is so authoritative, (My Tu-134/154 lists were online when it came out) but now the book is getting older I feel adding them worthwhile again.



nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
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