Aviation as Ukraine's national dream: Idea to be realized

Author : Oleksiy Kushch

Source : 112 Ukraine

Not a single serial aircraft has been produced in Ukraine since 2015
11:00, 2 October 2020

Voice of America

In July (ahead of schedule), the Ministry of Finance bought out from creditors Ukraine's debts with repayment in 2021–2022 (sic !!!) with a premium of 5% in the amount of 800 million dollars and in August – some "garbage" in the form of GDP warrants worth $ 300 million.

And it's not even about the fact that in a crisis no one repays debts ahead of schedule, but on the contrary, they are often restructured. Moreover, no one buys out financial "garbage" in the form of GDP warrants.

A country with a critically worn-out infrastructure has no moral right to spend extra money on creditors, presidential residences, new cars of the officials, and "supervisory councils."

Saudi Arabia has abandoned a joint project with Ukraine to produce AN-132 aircraft. At the first stage of the project, our country was obliged to confirm the technical ability to serially produce aircraft by opening a line in Ukraine and producing the first 20 aircraft. None of this was done, although not so much money was needed to start - about $ 200 million in start-up investments.

Related: Antonov has released first aircraft without Russian parts

Ukraine planned to produce about 24 An-132 aircraft at a price of $ 30-35 million overboard, and the release was supposed to take place on an equal footing with the Saudis: 12 aircraft would be produced in Ukraine, another 12 in Saudi Arabia.

At one time, this transaction was subjected to well-deserved criticism in Ukraine, since the subject countries sell finished products and never share their technologies. In this case, the terms of the deal assumed that Ukraine would transfer half of its intellectual rights to its Middle East partners. Instead of selling planes, we decided to sell the blueprints and intangibles. But the Saudis would get their aircraft factory and become an aviation power.

After all, the Saudis were ready to open up for us the market of the Middle East countries (250 aircraft) and their own (80 aircraft). And also to create financial instruments for entering the Indian market, which is traditionally adapted for Soviet aircraft (100 aircraft). The sales market in the investment package is, in fact, the key to success. Moreover, at the Paris air show "Le Bourget" our AN-132 aroused genuine interest among potential customers, and the Saudis could offer profitable leasing programs through financial companies affiliated with them.

In 2021, a joint venture between Ukraine and Saudi Arabia could reach its design capacity of 24 aircraft per year on two lines in each country.

Now, this agreement has been canceled - the Saudis have politely explained that they are looking for a different type of aircraft, but the real reason, most likely, is different: foreign partners no longer believe in the technical viability of our country, in which specialized defense companies are placed under the tutelage of "overseas ragamuffins" and homegrown "experts" who have never worked for a real enterprise.

Just think: not a single serial aircraft has been produced in Ukraine since 2015!

Moreover, we do not even understand the basic principles of forming the country's prestige in the international arena. Ukrainian politicians fly on foreign planes, while the luxury versions of our aircraft in previous years were ordered by representatives of other countries. It would look like if Trump flew to Europe in an Airbus and Merkel used Boeing to get to the United States.

But after our visit, the President of Brazil happily declares: "Ukraine will buy Brazilian military transport aircraft" (despite the fact that we have our own serial analog...).

Related: Embezzlement at Antonov Enterprise: Suspect dismissed from Defense Ministry year ago

But if representatives of our political elite do not fly their planes and order them for the needs of the national army, why do we think that others will do it?

In this regard, the history of boards No. 1 in Germany, not the poorest country in the world, is remarkable. For a long time, the German Chancellor flew on the A310, which went to the German government after the unification of Germany and the subsequent liquidation of the GDR Interflug airline. To improve flight safety and not be embarrassed by junk, decades later, in 2011, Lufthansa handed over to the government fleet an Airbus A340, named after Konrad Adenauer, who had previously flown on commercial routes for ten years. Berlin is well aware of how to combine the prestige of the leading country of united Europe and thrift aimed at saving public funds.

In this regard, $ 1.1 billion, early paid by the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine to external creditors, is about 30 new AN-132 aircraft and their analogs, which could be built for the needs of the army, the Ministry of Emergency Situations, police, air ambulance, for training purposes of our cadets.

Instead, the army flies on Soviet scrap metal. With such a policy, our country is programmed for permanent man-made disasters.

Bridges, railways, gas pipelines, nuclear power plants, dams, mines, mines, hazardous waste storage facilities... What else should, relatively speaking, "explode" for the ochlocracy that elects these politicians to wake up?

Related: 2020 Chuhuiv An-26 crash: How riskful is using long lifer planes?

Any effective government is strategists, able to correctly identify priority goals in conditions of a scarce resource and choose the most optimal tactics to achieve them. Current politicians are only able to roll up "anti-coronavirus" money with an asphalt paver and pack the pockets of the external creditors.

Once Ukraine has released collectible coins of the series "Airplanes of Ukraine." And it was not the mythical aviation of the First World War, but the most modern aircraft: An-132, a hard worker adapted to the most extreme operating conditions, An-124 Ruslan, one of the most heavy-lifting aircraft in the series, and An-225" Mriya the pride of our air fleet, the record holder in the number of various indicators of range and carrying capacity.

But the aviation industry, as well as the rocket and space industry, cannot develop without active support from the state, because this is a long-term investment and technological cycle, the implementation of which requires the use of special financial instruments and mechanisms to protect the internal market. Yes, it is a "gem" of any industrial sector, but at the same time, this "precious pearl" requires no less expensive frame.

A long time ago, Antonov produced 60-70 aircraft a year (1991-1992). The last surge in activity was recorded for Euro 2012 when the company produced six units of equipment.

Most of the production since 2002 was made by military transport aircraft An-32 (37%) and transport-passenger An 140 (33%).

Already proceeding from this structure, it can be clearly seen that Antonov could develop in two directions: freight (the basic type of activity is cargo transportation) and passenger (auxiliary direction). And among the sources of funding, one should separately highlight the state defense order (military transport aircraft and aviation for the Ministry of Emergency Situations/Ministry of Internal Affairs) and private investment programs.

Can the state revive the aviation industry? Taking into account the logistic potential of our country, the population and the area of ​​the territory - it is simply obliged to do it! Although there will be an abundance of experts who will prove that it is better to fill the native sky with flying scrap metal, taken on the occasion from African and deep Asian routes to meet the sharply increased demand of Ukrainians for mobility. Like, why would we compete with Boeing or Airbus?

The first, the country should invest in transport logistics, while attracting private partners on a concession basis. Most of the Ukrainian regional centers should have their own regional (at least) airport. And a logistics center specializing in cargo transportation at the airport.

Secondly, we should impose a restriction on the import into the country of foreign planes with a dubious operating history, increasing the requirements for the equipment in use.

Third, we should create a system of incentives for launching leasing programs for the production and operation of domestic aircraft: at the first stage, financing can be provided by state-owned banks, in addition, the state can partially compensate the interest rate under leasing agreements for companies that receive Ukrainian aircraft.

Related: “Antonov” state enterprise to renew production of “Ruslan” aircraft in 2019

Fourth, it is necessary to develop the country's potential as an air hub and cargo carrier of goods from China to Europe, as well as from other Asian countries, with the help of a preferential lending regime.

Fifth, the program for the development of domestic passenger traffic using short-haul Ukrainian aircraft should be elaborated, as well as the gradual expansion of regional leadership in the segment of medium-haul routes.

But the key direction is to strengthen the position in the freight transport market, including long-haul (China - EU), with the creation of multimodal transshipment logistics centers near our airports. As the experience of the same Embraer shows, all invested investments pay off.

But to solve such a simple task, officials need only a little - patience and for several years "not to steal" at a loss.

Unfortunately, our politicians are able to post on the Facebook page about the "positive destruction of the country's industrial and scientific potential" (damned Soviet past!) and immediately post videos with the Ukrainian "Mriya", which broke another record for long-distance cargo transportation...

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