Antonov concludes agreement with Boeing and resumes serial production of aircraft

Author : Olena Holubeva

Respondent : Olexandr Donets

Source : 112 Ukraine

During the participation in one of the world's largest air shows, held recently in British Farnborough, the Antonov state company signed a general agreement with Boeing's Aviall Services Inc. Cooperation with it will help in solving the main problems of the Ukrainian company - to remove the shortcuts of providing production with non-stop loading of components, and in the future, to provide proper service for the operation of the AN-1X8 NEXT aircraft. In particular, this will allow the company to resume mass production of these aircraft, which has been suspended since 2014 due to the severance of economic ties with Russia, said to President of the Antonov State Enterprise Olexander Donets
19:45, 6 August 2018

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112 Agency

- To what extent the participation in the Farnborough-2018 air show was important for Antonov and what benefits will it provide to the state enterprise?

- The world's two largest aviation exhibitions are held in Farnborough, UK, and Le Bourget in France. These events are always attended by major players in the aircraft and aerospace industries, including specialists in instrument engineering and materials science. Participation in them is a good opportunity to understand the trends in the development of the world aviation industry, to get acquainted with the latest developments in the past year. In addition, traditionally several days of the salon, the so-called business days, are held in a closed for ordinary visitors mode. As a rule, this is a period of signing agreements and intensive negotiations.

- What new has Antonov brought to Farnborough?

- Our company is not the first time participating in an event of this level, we have previously been in Farnborough several times. In general, we try not to miss such events. For us it is an opportunity to demonstrate the whole world that the enterprise is alive, continues its work. If the aircraft building company does not participate in airshows, it primarily shows its financial inconsistency, reluctance to demonstrate new developments. Every time we appear on a landmark exhibition, a lot of interested representatives of the aviation world gather near our stands, and Farnborough-2018 was no exception.

- Have you showed one of the planes at the air show?

- At the current air show, the AN-178 was introduced, it performed a demonstration flight, made a good impression.

- Did the aircraft attract the attention of customers?

- Yes, there was an interest, and high enough. I would like to note that a significant event took place during the air show. It will be an important step to the resumption of the serial production of the An-1X8 series of aircraft, consisting of the upgraded An-148, An-158, and An-178 models. After more than a year of tense negotiations, a general agreement was concluded with Aviall Services Inc., which is part of the Boeing Global Service group. This is a significant event for Antonov. Many companies and design offices in the world are interested in cooperation with such giants as Boeing or Airbus. I can say that the developers of the systems we addressed before the conclusion of the agreement with Aviall began to treat us quite differently. We can say that after the conclusion of this agreement, the status of our enterprise has increased.

- How expensive for Ukraine is Antonov's participation in such events as the air show in Farnborough?

- You'd better ask the question about how much effort the Antonov team needed for the preparation and participation in the salon. This is not a jaunt at all. This is quite a hard work 12-14 hours a day. If we talk about the financial side, then for Ukraine is costed nothing - Antonov independently pays its participation in such exhibitions, funds from the budget are not used for this.

- That is, not even Ukroboronprom finances it?

- Ukroboronprom company pays for its participation, we pay for ours. We are an independent economic entity.

- Tell me more about cooperation with Aviall. What benefits will it give for the Antonov state enterprise?

- With Aviall Services Inc. we concluded a general agreement. This is the first step that involves cooperation in two main areas. Antonov creates a material and customs warehouse on the territory of the enterprise. According to our application, Aviall will provide the supply of components that are necessary for the production of AN aircraft, through its own logistics network. In particular, the components for the unfinished machines that are currently in our hangars will be delivered (currently there are 10 unfinished An-148 and An-158 in the Antonov hangars).

- Do I understand correctly that this means that you found a full-fledged variant of import substitution and, in fact, solved the main problem of the enterprise that arose after the severance of ties with Russia?

- Yes, this is a full-fledged variant of import substitution. In addition, it is very convenient and profitable for us, because it allows us to keep the current assets of the enterprise, not to spend it on the purchase of materials and components.

- What is the timing of introducing new finished aircraft?

- I cannot name exact terms yet. We plan to release the first An-158 next year. The second important part of the agreement with Aviall concerns the operation of our aircraft. In particular, Aviall will participate in providing after-sales technical support. So far, all the problems associated with the maintenance of aircraft since their purchase, fell on the shoulders of the operator. This was more than inconvenient, since in this case the operator himself had to arrange, for example, spare parts stores. Aviall will form a supply pool of components, and in the event of a breakdown in any country, it will be possible to provide the necessary replacement using the Boeing logistics network and the operators will be able to receive them anytime and anywhere in the world.

- Will innovations affect only those aircraft that will be assembled now, from the components delivered by Aviall?

- Yes, we agreed that these conditions apply only to the new line of An-1X8 NEXT. First of all, we plan to complete the An-158. Then we will work on the modernized An-178. For other, older models, this program is not yet available.

- Now we are talking about the beginning of serial production of Antonov aircraft in An-1X8 NEXT series, which became possible due to the conclusion of an agreement with Aviall?

- Exactly.

- Have you already started searching for buyers for future machines that will be assembled with the components delivered by Aviall?

- Yes. Our machinery is in demand and there are buyers. Here is the protocol (demonstrates the document lying on the table, - Ed.) of the last meeting with representatives of Silk Way (Azerbaijan), certified on July 11. They confirmed their interest in purchasing 10 An-178 aircraft.

- Will it be already the airplanes from NEXT line, with the accessories delivered by Aviall?

- Probably.

- Will the aircraft assembled with Aviall components be more expensive than those assembled with Russian components?

- We will be able to answer this question when we determine the conditions for removing the equipment from the warehouses. At the same time I want to draw your attention to the fact that about 60% of components of Western production are cheaper than Russian ones.

- Have you calculated the exact figure yet?

- When we get all the reference points, we will understand.

- Please tell us about cooperation with AIR-ION TECHNOLOGIES SA, a Swiss company, with which on Farnborough you also have signed cooperation agreements.

- It's about the project of an unmanned taxi. For us, this is a completely new topic, but it interests us, especially our young engineers. Negotiations with the company were started about six months ago. Their representatives came to the Antonov, our staff visited them. They do not have their own large production facilities, the company specializes in the creation of electronic systems for drones and technological support. In our joint project, Air-Ion will perform the function of searching for customers and financing the project. Our task at the initial stage is the development of the fuselage (body) of an unmanned taxi. This is a very promising direction, and the current showroom in Farnborough has given it a lot of evidence. More and more companies are turning to the subject of drones, and now everything goes to the fact that in the short term (5-7 years) most of the tasks will be performed by automatic systems. In 10-15 years, I am sure, the emergence of aircraft, controlled without human intervention, is not ruled out.

- Have you signed a memorandum with AIR-ION TECHNOLOGIES SA on Farnborough?

- Yes, it is a memorandum, within which we begin the process of preparing a working design group, which will receive a technical assignment for the formation of the fuselage.

- Is the timing clear?

- I think that the pre-sketches, and possibly the sketch of the fuselage of the future unmanned taxi will appear already in 2019, in the first half of the year.

- To what extent Swiss can finance this project?

- They have a customer, in which they are absolutely sure.

- Is the customer a well-known company?

- Yes, but I will not name it.

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