Russia aiming to fly solo without Airbus and Boeing

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Russia’s aviation industry will aim to go it alone without the West, using locally built parts to produce 1,000 airliners by 2030 and end a reliance on Boeing and Airbus, Rostec said.

The remarks from Rostec, a vast state corporation headed by a close ally of President Vladimir Putin that includes Russia’s only manufacturer of civil aircraft, are the strongest indication yet that the country’s aviation sector sees the confrontation with the West as a permanent schism.

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The West’s imposition of the most severe sanctions in modern history after Moscow sent thousands of troops into Ukraine has forced the biggest change on Russia’s economy since the Soviet Union crumbled from 1989 to 1991.

Foreign aircraft, mainly from Boeing and Airbus, account for 95% of passenger traffic, but sanctions mean there are no spare parts – and no prospect of any.

Reuters reported in August that Russian airlines, including state controlled Aeroflot (AFLT.MM), were stripping jetliners to secure spare parts they can no longer buy abroad because of Western sanctions.

But Rostec, headed by Sergei Chemezov, sees the upheaval as an opportunity to build a strong, self-reliant aviation industry.

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Russian airlines, including Aeroflot, splurged on Boeing and Airbus aircraft as they sought to rebuild their fleets after the chaos of the 1990s. Forging a competitive domestic alternative will be difficult.

The target of building 1,000 airliners by 2030 is “basically impossible”, according to aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia, managing director of U.S.-based AeroDynamic Advisory.

By comparison with the new seven-year goal, Russia and the rest of the Soviet Union had only ever built a combined total of around 2,000 large commercial jetliners, he added.

When it comes to modern jets, Russia’s only civilian planemaker, Rostec’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), is limited by a lack of models, manufacturing capacity and foreign components.

Half of components and technologies used in the Russian aircraft industry in 2021 originated from foreign countries, according to a document titled: “On the Strategic Directions of Activity in the New Conditions for the Period up to 2030” prepared by the government.

“Our next goal is, in the shortest time, to complete import substitution of those imported parts which were delivered from abroad, for promising aviation projects – SSJ-New and MS-21,” Rostec said.

By Gleb Stolyarov – Reuters

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