Anatoly Gaidansky, Aerocomposit - ЗАО "АэроКомпозит"
Release Date: 2011-03-06Anatoly Gaidansky, President of Aerocomposit, has been interviewed by Russianavia.net to discuss the development of composite industry in Russia, the current aviation projects involving composite materials and the involvement of Aerocomposit as UAC's headliner in construction of new aviation clusters specialized in composites.
Mr. Gaidansky, thank you very much for receiving us today. Since Aerocomposit is one of the newest companies involved in the Russian aviation industry, it would be interesting for our readers to understand what was behind the decision to create the company and what is the role of Aerocomposit in UAC?
To give you some background, the reason why composites are becoming so relevant in the aviation industry is because of their key advantage over metal: less weight and better aerodynamic characteristics, which is essential for the wing box as the essential construction in the aircraft body which was traditionally made of metal. Boeing Dreamliner was the first to break this tradition. Other examples of the international aircraft that were the first to implement composites are Airbus 350 and Bombardier’s C-Series.
Historically, composites have been applied in Russian aircraft construction for over 30 years for rudders, interceptors, airbrakes, cowling, doors, hatches, panels, and the latest trend is an increase of the share of composites in aviation equipment. A few years ago, a strategic decision was taken to implement composites in the wing and tail fin for MS-21 mid-range aircraft. Consequently, UAC and Sukhoi created Aerocomposit as a center for composite competence for all future programs in Russian aviation such as MS-21, SSJ-100 and SSJ-130, the new Sukhoi generation.
The main objective that the shareholders have assigned to Aerocomposit is to create a center for composite competence in construction, technology and production. Currently, Aerocomposit and Sukhoi Company are developing the ‘black’ wing prototype for MS-21 in cooperation with our foreign colleagues. In the next few months, the prototype will be supplied to the Central Institute for Aerohydrodynamics (TsAGI) for testing. Besides, in 2011 we’re starting construction of two mass production facilities using the available floor space at Aviastar-SP in Ulyanovsk and KAPO in Kazan. The new facility at Aviastar-SP, Aerocomposit-Ulyanovsk, will be specialized in production of the main power elements and final assembly of the wing, and the new facility at KAPO, Aerocomposit-KAPO, will specialize in control elements in the frame of cooperation with the leading world composite manufacturers. Our main suppliers of composites are Sitek and Hexis and our partners for technology are Spirit, Premium Aerotech and Fischer Composite. Some of our Russian partners are VSMPO-AVISMA with their titanium program and the Russian institutes – TsAGI, NIIAT (Scientific and Research Institute of Motor Transport) and VIAM (Russian Institute for Aviation Materials). I hope that our strong partnerships will ensure successful realization of our projects.
Why were KAPO and Aviastar ultimately chosen?
We have analyzed other UAC’s facilities in Voronezh and Lukhovitsy. Firstly, Aviastar-SP and KAPO have good aviation traditions, regional aviation universities, and, most importantly, we have received support of the local governments and have signed respective investment agreements with good tax breaks. Secondly, the local facilities in Ulyanovsk and Kazan have available floor space to set up our own production. This is an important factor that reduces the time and investments. Besides, both facilities are part of UAC, and we can potentially rely on their resources.
Why are all these developments starting just now?
Composite production has always existed in Russia but it was aimed at the traditional products. Creation of load-bearing units for aircraft takes a drastic upgrade of the level of technology. Unfortunately, it has to be based on foreign materials because new technologies were not developed in Russia during the last years and, consequently, new generation materials were not produced in Russia.
Obviously, the time of the existence of Aerocomposit combined with an extremely short timeframe for completion of the ‘black’ wing program puts certain strains on the organizations. What assets does Aerocomposite dispose of in terms of financial production and human resources? What were the main challenges in the past two years?
Firstly, we are working with Sukhoi Company, our shareholder and the main construction division. Aerocomposite and our foreign partners act as the sources of technologies that are mainly being created from scratch through our joint developments. We can fairly say that this work is quite successful – we have managed to create wing prototype and hopefully the tests in TsAGI will show that our developments are viable. Basically, we borrow the Russian abilities to design aircraft and the technologies that our foreign partners have been developing for dozens of years. This synergy allows us create the competences that we want to create.
You have mentioned Fischer Composite among your foreign partners. How difficult was it to find a foreign partner ready for technological transfer and how did you convince them to go in that direction?
By all means, it is not easy to build partner relations and it is not exactly a direct technology transfer because the technology that we are going to implement is created together with our partners and our engineers are studying and developing these competences. Besides, we work with the leading world equipment manufacturers such as ThyssenKrupp System Engineering, BRОTJE-Automation GmbH and Comau France who are our technological partners for creation of the facility. These companies are also shortlisted as our potential suppliers for certain technological solutions and they will also work with the best suppliers of equipment such as NDT, autoclaves, milling machines, furnaces etc.
As you say, Fischer Composite is your foreign partner for co-development. These companies have dozens of years of experience; they have experienced engineers, technicians and the necessary human knowledge. In the composite industry and in your case, are the competent people there or is finding human resources the other big challenge that you are facing?
Obviously, the main human resources for mass production will be local. During setup and at the first two years of operation, we will borrow the human resources of our partners both for quality control management and training. Besides, Russia is not starting aircraft construction or working with composites from scratch.
Apparently, Rusnano is creating a company that will be a major expert in nanocomposites for aviation. Is this company a potential supplier of Aerocomposit?
Indeed, we are working with Composit Holding Company, it’s a Rusnano company created for development of high quality materials.
The timeframe for the new ‘black’ wing is scheduled for 2013. Is this technological leap feasible during the next 3 years? When are we going to see Russian aircraft flying with ‘black’ wings?
The current schedule for production of the first wing is mid-2013. You are right to say ‘leap’ because we use a brand new technology different from that of Boeing and Airbus. This technology has a few weight advantages over the standard configurations, and one of the objectives of making the wing prototype was to confirm its capabilities that we are now implementing. As a result, we have reached a high level of development for this technology and we see no major problems to implement it in mass production under the current timeframe. Moreover, Bombardier is following a similar technology; its first take-off is scheduled for 2012.
Obviously, your responsibility today in the area of composites is to work closely within the Russian aviation programs; nevertheless, the Russian aviation industry also has a history of exporting. Which are the potential target markets for Aerocomposit once you have unfolded the new technologies?
Our primary target is the Russian aviation industry however we also regard possible cooperation with the major world manufacturers. Particularly, in Kazan we will create a joint venture with Fischer Composite in order to generate a large export potential. Aerocomposit-Ulyanovsk, our new facility at Aviastar-SP that will specialize in new technologies will hopefully get foreign contracts. Currently, the development of the world aviation market shows us such potential possibilities. Of course, it won’t happen before we prove our competence in this area, that is why we first develop our technology under the Russian aviation programs.
Do you believe the potential demand in Russia and production of new aircraft will be sufficient to help Aerocomposit reach critical size and compete internationally? Secondly, what is your planned output in the years to come?
The planned annual output for MS-21 is about 40-60 aircraft during the first years with further increase depending on how the program develops with same volume for SSJ-100 and SSJ-130. The estimated payoff period is 7-8 years.
As for the potential demand in Russia, our production capacity can be rapidly adjusted to more demand. In any case, the feasibility analysis was based on pessimistic scenarios and the business plan is quite realistic. Therefore, we regard a stage-by-stage investment plan from small-scale production to a gradual increase of the aviation programs. Personally, I think we can assume that we will manage to attract foreign contracts if we show good technological solutions.
|Company:||Aerocomposit - ЗАО "АэроКомпозит"|