Orders for Illyushin and Irkut but who cares? MAKS Airshow sees no foreign buyers.

Russian manufacturers find it almost impossible to break out of domestic markets. With the rare exception of the SSJ-100 (which is now often flying over my office into BHX from Brussels), only Russian airlines, often pressured by the government, seem “interested” in domestically built aircraft.

Irkut MC-21-300

Despite the fact these aircraft are often powered by foreign built or designed engines, some assembled under licence in Russia, there isn’t a genuine customer to be seen coming anywhere near them. The pressure of exchange rates on domestic airlines, making foreign purchase or leasing expensive, and powerful behind the scenes ‘inducements’ to co-operate, are all that seems to hold these programmes together. If you want to see what happens when an airline falls out favour with the Russian Government, just look at Transaero’s story.

Aeroflot’s Sukhoi SSJ-100

Russian leasors – Illyushin Finance, backed by Government favoured banks will lease Saratov Airlines six MC-21-300’s, when they’re delivered some time in 7-8 years. These will replace Embraer E-195’s.

Redwing Airlines, another regional will take more, to replace its ageing Antonov fleet of various shapes and sizes. Angara Airlines will take another 3.

The State Transport leasing Co of state owned RUAC will buy 50 Il-114-100’s from the new Russian factory of the slightly upgraded aircraft that dates back years, and was previously built in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

The Russian government doesn’t want to lose its aviation sector at almost any price, and if it means making sure domestic airlines don’t step out of line to prop it up, so be it. VIM airlines and a number of others some of us may never have heard of, keep the factories open. Even Aeroflot find itself regularly persuaded to throw its hat into the ring – but it tries to keep away from anything more than the SSJ-100, which it just ordered another 20 of.

Only the SSJ-100 has had any international sales worth talking about, but even those are minimal in the extreme compared to any western manufacturer.

In the real world I doubt one of these aircraft types would have found a customer if it wasn’t for the bubble Russia’s government creates to make sure they exist.


©JonChamps 2017 – images ©Aeroflot and ©Irkut.