Andrey Zlobin, Ph.D., aviation specialist
In the 1980s, at Bauman Moscow State Technical University, I was taught an engineering discipline called "Organization and Planning of Enterprises" or abbreviated as OPP. Oh, and professors and associate professors taught us seriously, forcing us to plan production processes and endlessly build so-called network graphs. What resources are required, in what order certain works should be performed, how long it takes, how to set deadlines, and much, much more. Since my engineering specialization was aviation gas turbine engines, I literally absorbed all the complexity of the processes of creating modern aviation technology with milk. Later, while working at the Central Institute of Aviation Motors CIAM, the subject of the EPP helped to competently plan, coordinate and carry out fire science experiments based on the rhythmic production of various aircraft structures.
The current high-tech production is not the bed workshops of the beginning of the last century, in which the first airplanes were born. Today airplanes, helicopters and aircraft engines must be produced exclusively in large batches - hundreds and thousands of pieces. Only then is their release economically justified. It is not advisable to organize a piece production of airliners "on the knees", especially if the requirements for reliability and cost of products remain. And there can be absolutely no question of saturating the civil aviation fleet of a huge country in this way. We need a developed industry capable of supplying the entire complex of the aviation industry with the necessary materials, machine tools, and instruments. Finally, we need a special education system that will allow mass production of aviation specialists with the highest level of engineering and technical training.
Analyzing the current situation caused by the sanctions, one involuntarily gets the feeling of running in circles. Indeed, in the 1990s, Russia was already facing a crisis in civil aviation caused by a reorientation to foreign aircraft. To the detriment of its own aviation industry, the country began to massively purchase foreign aircraft, and the largest Western aircraft manufacturers warmed their hands well on this. In fact, Russia bought itself another civil aviation fleet, which today is 60-70 percent foreign aircraft. And now the foreigners, figuratively speaking, suggested that we throw all this equipment into a landfill. Similarly, they proposed in the 1990s to destroy Soviet civilian airliners. Agree - a strange picture emerges. It seems that the West has put the plane scams on stream. It doesn’t matter for what reasons, but first you are provoked to ruin your entire civilian fleet, and then buy the same hundreds of aircraft from them, because you simply have nothing to fly on. I repeat, we are not talking about individual aircraft, but about a huge fleet of at least half a thousand cars!
By stopping the supply of spare parts for their aircraft, foreign firms disclaim any responsibility for flight safety. It is clear that for some time Russian airlines will still be able to fly foreign cars, but with each flight the problem of equipment resource and passenger safety will become more acute. We are unlikely to be able to quickly establish the production of the entire range of spare parts. It's like maintaining a second civil aviation. And the concept of "know-how" has not been canceled. It is not so easy to solve the issues of materials, unique designs and accurately reproduce all the nuances of the most complex technological processes. Consequently, in a few years, a significant part of foreign cars will turn into useless trash. At the same time, the outlined plans for urgent import substitution, alas, are unconvincing. After all, we are in fact facing a new industrialization, which will take a long time. That is why the production of 500 domestic aircraft in the coming years is extremely problematic. Nor can we allow the formation of a civilian air fleet like a patchwork quilt - collecting from the world, one by one, different types and brands of aircraft. The laws of engineering require that in a vast country certain provisions of standardization and interchangeability of parts of aircraft structures be carried out. It would be naïve to believe that a motley fleet of aircraft will become anything but an additional headache for Russia.
What do we have in the bottom line if we lose the fleet of foreign cars, but we don’t have time to make our own planes? It is not difficult to calculate such a situation. Once again, the temptation of a simple solution will arise - once again to criticize domestic engineers and again purchase five hundred aircraft from foreigners. In a few years, the sanctions may prudently be lifted or softened, and for the second time they will try to sell Russia a huge fleet of aircraft, which is being destroyed today through sanctions machinations. Thus, the problems of Western aircraft production will be solved at our expense. Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic has dramatically reduced the intensity of air travel around the world. Decreased and the need for aircraft. The surplus of foreign-produced liners needs to be attached somewhere. There is no more tempting prospect for foreign firms than to swindle the Russians for the second time - to sell us again the same five hundred aircraft, again a whole aviation fleet.
If we take into account the resumption of deliveries of spare parts and service, then the amount of resale to us of five or six hundred foreign civil airliners can be estimated at $ 100 billion, or even more. For the sake of such a rich jackpot, the masters of large scams do not disdain anything. Even purposeful actions to prevent the revival of the Russian aviation industry are not ruled out. Russian manufacturers of civil aviation equipment need to take into account the possible unexpected turn of events and insure against unfair competition accordingly. The nineties have already demonstrated how foreigners can "breed" domestic officials for fabulous money by selling the lion's share of civil aviation. It is hardly worth stepping on the same rake again. It's time to stop this strange running in circles. And of course, there is a need to radically change the laws, providing aviation manufacturers in Russia, the entire aviation industry with the most favored nation treatment.