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Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Thu Dec 13, 2007 5:43 am

Fellow A.netters,

Airliners of Soviet origin have been widely used in Communist countries and other states with strong Soviet influence. It can be stated that the reason for buying Soviet-built planes was largely a political one as practically none of the western airlines ever ordered them.

My question:

Had there not been political reasons by which to justify an order from western/eastern manufacturers, which Soviet-built airliners would have been most competitive on western markets?

I know that while maybe more durable and more suitable for non-paved runway operations, Tupolevs and Ilyushins have not been as much focused on passenger comfort or fuel economics. In general, would the Tu-134, for example, have been somewhat suitable for western operations, at least when compared to other airliners of Soviet origin? Or the Il-62, for long haul?
 
roseflyer
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Thu Dec 13, 2007 5:54 am

The only airplanes that have been operated outside of Russia are the Tu 154 and Tu 204. The Tu 204 is the most economial airplane from the former Soviet Union. At least one non communist state operates it. The Tu 154 was a very common airplane and due to its cheap ownership costs is used widely.

It's hard to compare Soviet and Russian aircraft to Western Aircraft. Western engines and avionics are widely known as better. However some airlines are willing to buy Russian aircraft, but do not want western components. The West developed superior aircraft and components. The former Soviet Union isn't really competitive with what other companies like Airbus, Boeing and McDonell Douglas developed.
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irobertson
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Thu Dec 13, 2007 2:42 pm



Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 1):
The only airplanes that have been operated outside of Russia are the Tu 154 and Tu 204.

Not true.


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I'm sure there are others. If the IL-96-400 gets going, it could be a good cheap long-range high-capacity alternative for less wealthy airlines. The Sukhoi Superjet is going to be an amazing little regional jet too.
 
BlueSky1976
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Thu Dec 13, 2007 2:58 pm



Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 1):
The only airplanes that have been operated outside of Russia are the Tu 154 and Tu 204.

Sorry, but try doing some homework first. In Poland alone LO operated Il-12, -14, -18, -62, Tu-134, -154 and An-24. Add to that all former Warsaw Pact countries and a few more from Africa, Asia and Middle East.
As far as reliability/competitiveness goes, many believe that Ilyushin Il-18 series was very safe, reliable and the most economical plane Russian industry produced and at the time could compete on a level field with its Western counterparts.
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sibille
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Thu Dec 13, 2007 3:40 pm



Quoting RoseFlyer (Reply 1):
The only airplanes that have been operated outside of Russia are the Tu 154 and Tu 204.

Dont' forget
Tu-134/Yak-40 in Peru (Imperial Air)
Tu-134/Il-18/Yak-40 in Vietnam
Tu-134/Yak-40 in Cambodia
Tu-154 in Guyana
Tu-154, Tu-204, Il-18 and Il-62 in Egypt
Tu-154 and Yak-42 in Pakistan (Shaheen)
Tu-154/Yak-40/42 in Iran
Il-62 in Angola, Central Africa and Gambia
Yak-40 in Philippine
Il-62 in India
Tu-134 in Nigeria (Harco Air Service)
Yak-42/An-24 in Mali
Tu-154/An-24/Yak-40 in Lybia (Tibesti)
Tu-134/154/Yak-40 in Syria
And I forget a lot......
 
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RayChuang
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Thu Dec 13, 2007 3:46 pm

The Il-18 was actually a pretty good airliner with a good safety record, especially considering the poor state (by Western standards) of navigation and runway quality in the former Soviet Union. I believe CAAC operated their Il-18 fleet well into the 1990's before they were retired as CAAC was split up into the various airlines in China today.
 
masseybrown
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Thu Dec 13, 2007 4:21 pm

Personally, I hope the Sukhoi Superjet 100 will be competitive and a success. The more competition the better.
 
exitrowaisle
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Thu Dec 13, 2007 8:44 pm

For reasons already mentioned (passenger comfort, efficiency, technology) I don't think Soviet airliners, overall, would ever have been competitive in the Western (i.e. capitalist) marketplace. To be fair, they were designed for utility and mass production, to be operated by the government vs. trying to compete commercially. Of all the Soviet-era airliners, I think the Yakovlev Yak-42 might have been able to find a niche in the West. They were one of the first Soviet planes to have more fuel-efficient high-bypass engines, and might have found a home in markets served by BAC1-11s or Fokker F28 jets.
 
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Thu Dec 13, 2007 11:46 pm

Daallo, still operates the IL-18 out of Somalia (I think) they are pretty neat.
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Rockinflyer
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 12:48 am



Quoting BlueSky1976 (Reply 3):
Sorry, but try doing some homework first. In Poland alone LO operated Il-12, -14, -18, -62, Tu-134, -154 and An-24. Add to that all former Warsaw Pact countries and a few more from Africa, Asia and Middle East.
As far as reliability/competitiveness goes, many believe that Ilyushin Il-18 series was very safe, reliable and the most economical plane Russian industry produced and at the time could compete on a level field with its Western counterparts.

Your homework is correct, however most those countries were obliged, to put it nicely, to operate those aircraft at the time. The only one that comes to mind that was able to break that mold was Tarom with their 707's. During those times I don't really think an order for western aircraft would have been ,um, "tolerated"? Anyway, I would have to say the TU-154, AND the IL-62 as well as the TU-204 could have done as well as most others. Too bad BA mucked up the works on the VC-10 which could have had a longer lifespan and could have taken a bit of market share from the 707 or IL-62 .
The VC-10 was a beautiful high performance bird that got lost in british politics. Anyway, there are some very well suited Russian aircraft out there that could work in alot of markets.
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:17 am



Quoting Rockinflyer (Reply 9):
Anyway, there are some very well suited Russian aircraft out there that could work in alot of markets.

Russian engines have never been as reliable as Western-built engines. If not mistaken, the time between overhaul of virtually all Russian engines is significantly shorter than their closest equivalents built by GE, R-R or P&W. Some were also extremely noisy and not easily hush-kitted which is why certain types like the Tu-134 (and early models of the Tu-154) can no longer operate in the EU.
 
elmothehobo
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:59 am



Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 10):
Russian engines have never been as reliable as Western-built engines. If not mistaken, the time between overhaul of virtually all Russian engines is significantly shorter than their closest equivalents built by GE, R-R or P&W.

Russia has caught on. The Tu-204 is available with either RR 211s or a Russian engine. It's too bad that the Tu-204 hasn't picked up more sales though.
 
Strathpeffer
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 7:48 am



Quoting Exitrowaisle (Reply 7):
I think the Yakovlev Yak-42 might have been able to find a niche in the West.

I am sure I read somewhere, a wee while back, that when the Yak-42 was first unvieled to the West everyone was rather taken aback because it seemed that the Soviet Union had finally produced an aircraft capable of competing with the other products of the day.

PJ
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BlueSky1976
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 8:35 am



Quoting Rockinflyer (Reply 9):
Your homework is correct, however most those countries were obliged, to put it nicely, to operate those aircraft at the time.

Agreed - some countries were very strict about holding their ties closely with Soviet Union (East Germany comes to mind), however there was an opportunity for LO in the early 1970s to purchase DC-9s and -10s - , that later cause and the airline came quite close to finalising that order. Don't forget that LO was the only Eastern Bloc airline that also operated Western equipment along the Soviet-made aircraft (Viscounts and Convairs).

Quoting Rockinflyer (Reply 9):
I don't really think an order for western aircraft would have been ,um, "tolerated"?

Polish order for 767s was tolerated without any problem. They were ordered in 1988. Granted, that purchase came after two deadly Il-62 crashes, but still Gorbachov and the Soviet administration had no problem whatsoever with LO purchasing Western equipment. The rest is history.
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workhorse
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 10:28 am

Quoting Ravel (Thread starter):
Had there not been political reasons by which to justify an order from western/eastern manufacturers, which Soviet-built airliners would have been most competitive on western markets?

The Il-76, by far. There is still a lot of heavy duty applications (rescue missions, hauling cargo to/from remote places in Africa etc) where it is unbeatable. The Il-76 is also by far the most reliable big aircraft Russia (USSR) has ever made (engines, systems...).

[Edited 2007-12-14 02:32:39]
 
scalebuilder
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:04 am



Quoting Workhorse (Reply 14):
The Il-76, by far. There is still a lot of heavy duty applications (rescue missions, hauling cargo to/from remote places in Africa etc) where it is unbeatable. The Il-76 is also by far the most reliable big aircraft Russia (USSR) has ever made (engines, systems...).

I have to agree with you on this one. The Il-76 is perhaps the best transport the Soviet Union ever produced. It is capable of doing what its Western counterparts for the most part could not do.
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EDICHC
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:04 pm



Quoting Rockinflyer (Reply 9):
Too bad BA mucked up the works on the VC-10 which could have had a longer lifespan and could have taken a bit of market share from the 707 or IL-62 .
The VC-10 was a beautiful high performance bird that got lost in british politics. Anyway, there are some very well suited Russian aircraft out there that could work in alot of markets.

The commercial failure of the VC10 (Which I agree was one beautiful aircraft and a favourite of mine as a kid) had very little to do with British politics or BA for that matter. It was designed initially to offer desired performance in hot and high condtions in destinations to which BOAC operated at the time. Changes to airport infrastructure, travel patterns and the aircraft's noisy, smoky and thirsty RR Conway engines rendered it uneconomical and obsolete.
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cy319
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 1:25 pm

I d go for the TU154!
Many Eastern European airlines used to operate it (i.e OK,MA,LZ) as well as many Russian/ex Soviet carriers.
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Alessandro
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 2:01 pm

Depends on the era, The Tu-114 was as good aircraft which the Japanese also operated. I think the Tu-104 was as good
as the Comet. Tu-154 became a very good aircraft comparable with the B727.
Tu-124, Tu-134s and Tu-144 was failures in my book, Tu-204 isn´t supported properly.
Il-62 also become very good, Il-86 not as good nor the Il-96 and Il-114 which hasen´t been properly supported either.
An-10 was a real failure along with the Tu-144 the worst. I think the Il-86 is a very comfortable aircraft, the Tu-114 as
well, problem with Il-86 is the NK-8 engines, not fuel efficent. Early Tu-134s couldn´t do engine reverse and even had
brakechute, very oldfashioned, the Tu-144 had also brakechute.

[Edited 2007-12-14 06:08:07]
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mbj2000
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 2:06 pm



Quoting BlueSky1976 (Reply 13):
Don't forget that LO was the only Eastern Bloc airline that also operated Western equipment along the Soviet-made aircraft (Viscounts and Convairs).

Uh, wait, didn't the GDR in it's late days buy some A310 and also Romania had a couple of BAC1-11?
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Alessandro
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 2:10 pm



Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 10):
Russian engines have never been as reliable as Western-built engines. If not mistaken, the time between overhaul of virtually all Russian engines is significantly shorter than their closest equivalents built by GE, R-R or P&W. Some were also extremely noisy and not easily hush-kitted which is why certain types like the Tu-134 (and early models of the Tu-154) can no longer operate in the EU.

Well, the Tu-114 had very good prop engines, as for jet, they aren´t as good.
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Alessandro
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 2:15 pm



Quoting Rockinflyer (Reply 9):
Your homework is correct, however most those countries were obliged, to put it nicely, to operate those aircraft at the time. The only one that comes to mind that was able to break that mold was Tarom with their 707's. During those times I don't really think an order for western aircraft would have been ,um, "tolerated"? Anyway, I would have to say the TU-154, AND the IL-62 as well as the TU-204 could have done as well as most others. Too bad BA mucked up the works on the VC-10 which could have had a longer lifespan and could have taken a bit of market share from the 707 or IL-62 .
The VC-10 was a beautiful high performance bird that got lost in british politics. Anyway, there are some very well suited Russian aircraft out there that could work in alot of markets.

JAT and Tarom was the first to operate western aircraft among the COMECON nations in europe, JAT was pushing the developement of the Tu-134.
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Alessandro
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 2:17 pm

MBJ, Tarom did get the Rombac 1-11, a locally made licensed aircraft, one of these still actually fly in Kazachstan!
Interflug bought some A310s yes, after LOT had bought Boeings.

[Edited 2007-12-14 06:19:09]
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Clydenairways
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 2:39 pm



Quoting Alessandro (Reply 22):
MBJ, Tarom did get the Rombac 1-11, a locally made licensed aircraft, one of these still actually fly in Kazachstan!
Interflug bought some A310s yes, after LOT had bought Boeings.

Tarom did not just have Rombac 1-11, they also had original Bac 1-11's for years since the late 60's when they would have been a modern aircraft.
Tarom also had 707's from brand new.

So i would say during the Iron Curtain years Tarom had the largest western fleet of any eastern europe country for many years.

LOT were certainaly earlier with the Viscount but then had an all soviet fleet until the 767's.

I'm sure there were a few WW2 surplus DC3's floating around eastern europe operators before that too.
 
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lightsaber
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 2:44 pm



Quoting Ravel (Thread starter):
I know that while maybe more durable and more suitable for non-paved runway operations, Tupolevs and Ilyushins have not been as much focused on passenger comfort or fuel economics.

I have mechanics working for me who have working on Russian airframes. Their #1 complaint is the time it takes to prepare one for flight. Why? Russia has internal customs, so turn times are always in hours; so why design for a 20 minute turn?  Wink

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 10):
If not mistaken, the time between overhaul of virtually all Russian engines is significantly shorter than their closest equivalents built by GE, R-R or P&W.

 checkmark  The difference isn't subtle. Its a factor of three or four. When I first was able to investigate Russian engines up close I was amazed by several things. First, they had a lot of neat weight saving tricks in them. Some of the tricks are going into the GEnX, Trent 1000 and other latest generation engines.

But what also caught my eye was the amount of welding! No Western engine welds as much as a Russian engine. Partially this is due to the assumption that the field crews aren't as well trained as the factory crews. Thus, ship the part back to the factory. Hence, the LRUs are HUGE! Where a US engine might have the accessory gearbox the LRU, the Russian engine has a package of gearbox, oil pump, and a few other accessories welded together. The end result is an engine tough to service in the field.

Will the superjet do well? That will depend on how much Sukoi supports it like a western company. The Russian parts departments aren't known for filling orders quickly... something else that has limited Russian aircraft acceptance into the fleets of the world.

Don't get me wrong. The Russians have great engineers. We hired them by the dozens at my work. Oh yea... don't think Russian aerospace can come back to life tomorrow. I read in Time magazine that half of their scientists and engineers now work in the West. Mostly in the USA. Considering the number I see daily... I believe the statistic.

Lightsaber
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ravel
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:23 pm

I believe the Finnish national airline Finnair was almost pushed into contract with Tupolev and Ilyushin to purchase Tu-134's and Tu-154's but thanks to good negotiation skills, Finnair was able to buy DC-9's from McDonnell-Douglas. I read that the negotiations with MD were on the level "please, you really must sell us the planes" as they really did not want to buy Soviet planes.

Finland is (or was) a strange hybrid country between the West and the East, always under Russian/Soviet influence but would really like to be a western country. If Finnair would have flown with Soviet planes, it could have given wrong impressions. (Our air force used MiGs at the time and train engines were from USSR etc.)

If you have more information about this Finnair/USSR affair, please share your knowledge. Many people do not know that Finland almost became home to dozens of Tupolevs.  Wink
 
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seabosdca
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Fri Dec 14, 2007 11:42 pm



Quoting ElmoTheHobo (Reply 11):
Russia has caught on. The Tu-204 is available with either RR 211s or a Russian engine. It's too bad that the Tu-204 hasn't picked up more sales though.

For the major variants, when a 757 can do everything the Tu-204 can, with easier servicing, it's kind of hard to make the case for the Tu-204...

Having said that, the Tu-204-300, the stubby long-range version, is one of the most interesting airliners anywhere. It looks like an A320 that spent 3 hours a day in the gym -- the wingspan is wider than a 757's, and the engines are 757-size. Even though it has the less efficient and less powerful PS-90s, it can fly farther with more pax than any Western narrowbody. I'd like to fly on one sometime, but I have very little reason to go to Vladivostok...  Wink


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A342
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Sat Dec 15, 2007 2:40 pm

The most competitive Soviet aircraft is the An-124 - because it has no competition!
Exceptions confirm the rule.
 
KevinSmith
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Sat Dec 15, 2007 2:50 pm



Quoting A342 (Reply 27):
The most competitive Soviet aircraft is the An-124 - because it has no competition!

If it has no competition than how can it compete and hence forth be competitive?
Learning to fly, but I ain't got wings.
 
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lightsaber
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RE: Which Soviet Plane Most Competitive?

Sat Dec 15, 2007 7:16 pm



Quoting A342 (Reply 27):
The most competitive Soviet aircraft is the An-124 - because it has no competition!

touche'!

And good point. Items are being engineering to air transport in the AN-124 that otherwise would have been broken down for transit in the 744F. Of all the soviet airframes, that is the one where there is great demand for a modernized version. If the AN-124 could have better range/lower fuel burn it would be in even more demand. Now to see if they can get the maintenance requirements down to a more reasonable level. Sorry, but having to fly with a chief mechanic and team is a bit counter-productive.  Wink But since it can carry what nothing else can... the costs are accepted.

I know of a few engineers that selected the AN-124 for air-transport for a simple reason. It was charter two other freighters or one AN-124. The AN-124 is *just* cheaper than two alternatives.

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