Antonov president Oleksandr Donets talks about replacing Russian aircraft parts, plans for An-124 and a second An-225.
What is the production rate at Antonov at the moment and how will it develop in the coming years?
Oleksandr Donets*: At present, the Antonov facility is able to produce 10-15 aircraft per year. In this process we try to meet demands of our customers in the best way. It means there is a necessity to change the set of equipment for each certain airplane.
What exactly do you mean?
For instance, the aircraft for the Ministry of emergency situations will considerably differ from airplanes for airlines.
Are there still problems with certain parts that Russia no longer provides?
Our specialists have already completed design works in this direction. So we can say that the selection of the Ukrainian and Western-made items to replace Russian ones has been completed. The proper documentation was worked out. Some vendor items are being tested are several components have been installed on the experimental airplanes of the AN-148/An-158 family. Contracts to purchase the rest of new items are prepared.
How is the cooperation with the Boeing-subsidiary Aviall going?
We appreciate possibility of cooperation with this company. At present, we are working in accordance with the existing agreements.
The crew of An-124-100M-150 consists of four members.
UAC wants to build a rival to the An-124. What is Antonov’s opinion about that?
The An-124 Ruslan was developed by Oleg Antonov’s Design Bureau. Our Company is the type certificate holder. We do not disavow the technical possibility to perform deep modification of the An-124-100 Ruslan. But selection and installation of new equipment by Ilyushin Design Bureau will cause key changes of the aircraft performance in comparison to the basic model. That means, a new aircraft will appear in the aviation history. That is why it needs a new designation without reference to «AN», because Antonov Company does not take part in development of this new airplane and will not be responsible for its safety.
Are there any plans for a modernization of the An-124?
Antonov is continually working on modernization of the An-124-100, aiming to provide compliance of these airplanes with the current and perspective international requirements. In particular, the next step in the program of Ruslan upgrading is a new modification AN-124-100M-150. In comparison with the basic aircraft the payload was increased from 120 to 150 tonnes, maximum takeoff weight – from 392 to 402 tonnes, flight range with payload of 120 tonnes was increased from 4650 to 5400 kilometers.
The An-124 has a flight crew of six – two pilots, two flight engineers, a navigator and a communicator. Will there be an update of the cockpit one day so the navigator and the communicator will no longer be necessary?
These works are in progress. For instance, the crew of An-124-100M-150 consists of four members.
We intend to restart the An-158 production.
Are changes planned for the An-148?
An-148 has proved itself quite good in operation under different conditions. The aircraft operators from Latin America, Asia and Africa have expressed their interest in this airplane. As we have mentioned before, we need to fully complete the program of replacement of the Russian-made items and materials with Ukrainian and Western analogues to continue the An-148 manufacturing.
You will help Cubana to get their An-158 in the air again. Can you give us some more details?
Antonov started works on renewal and provision of the Full Fleet Support of six An-158 regional passenger jets of Cubana de Aviacion. At the first stage Antonov’s specialists review technical status of all the An-158 airplanes of the Cuban airline. After that, the second stage on renewal of these six airplanes’ airworthiness will be launched. Basing on the received results, the first-aid kit to provide further regular and fail-safe operation of An-158s will be generated. It is planned to renew the first two airplanes in the first quarter of 2020.
Will you produce new An-158? At Paris Air Show you talked with Liebherr-Aerospace about the plane.
We intend to restart the production of the An-158. The situation with this aircraft is the same like with An-148.
We have almost whole airframe for the second Mriya.
What is the status of An-178, after you’ve won a tender with the Peruvian military – has that changed your production plans?
The medium An-178 transport is undergoing certification tests. Part of the test program of the An-178 had been completed – but still with Russian parts. After replacement of Russian made components with Ukrainian and Western analogues we will perform additional trials. Until now, production of five An-178s has been launched.
There were plans to build new An-225’s with the help of China. Is that still the case?
This project is expensive. A lot of design and research works will be required to construct a new aircraft in compliance with current international standards. These works, purchase of the new equipment and the aircraft certification will cost hundreds millions of dollars. Such a project can be effective within an aerospace program, but not for commercial transportations. One An-225 is enough in this segment. An-124-100 Ruslan is more effective for such missions.
So we will not see a new An-225 anytime soon?
We have almost the whole airframe for the second one: fuselage, tail unit, wings. But about 80 percent of the aircraft equipment has to be redesigned. China was interested in cooperation on this project, but the contract was not signed.
Will we see a new civilian aircraft from Antonov in the coming years?
Of course, we see the potential and work on further development. Our priority is construction of airplanes of the Аn-1Х8 family.
*Oleksandr Donets has been the head of Antonov since June 2018. At the beginning of his career, he was himself an engineer at the Ukrainian aircraft manufacturer, working his way up to the position of the Chief Flight Engineer.