Thursday, October 20, 2022

Away From War For A Moment.

One of the things needed to be remembered while talking about SMO--life still continues. And here is an interesting video related to commercial aviation which stumbled upon today, and it discusses Air Koryo and situation with North Korean civil aviation. 

Indeed, a very practical question is asked. Most of those old Soviet-built aircraft will eventually begin to simply disintegrate, because no matter the maintenance, the air-frame fatigue cannot be stopped. The author does make a number of correct observations about Air Koryo fleet, with one exception, since TU-204 (214) is a very decent and not an ancient aircraft. In fact, it is a modern aircraft powered by very respectable PS-90A high bypass turbofans, and Air Koryo has two of those and they are not ancient: one is of 2007, another of 2008 years of production.  

But the issues the author of the video raises go well beyond the fate of a rather small air company from hermit kingdom of Juche. Apart, of course, from being deadly wrong on the issue of Antonov, which was able to produce only 47 regional AN-148 since 2004, peaking with 9 in 2013 and producing exactly ZERO aircraft in the last 5 years, while managing to defraud both Azerbaijan and Peru through prepayment by selling them... non-existent An-178. In other words, 404 has a commercial aviation industry which is 404 and it is never coming back. Author's arguments re: Chinese COMAC are precise--this is what I write about for years--unless you have your own competitive engines and advanced avionics (and systems), you are still in the state of being yet another Embraer. For all its famous aircraft--all of them are motorized by Western engines and fly using Western avionics. 

Here is the hope for North Korea--against the ongoing implosion (controlled demolition that is) of Western "rules-based order", North Korea will increasingly find its hands untied insofar as continuing to buy indigenous Russian-made commercial aircraft which do have both Russian engines and avionics. TU-214 comes to mind immediately, as is coming SSJ New. 

Irkut prepares the first flight of the SSJ-New regional jet for 2023 in hopes of starting series production of the aircraft by the end of next year. The SSJ-New is an improved version of the SuperJet 100 (SSJ100), a commercial jet with around 100 seats. It is a project in which the Russians wanted to compete in the global commercial aviation market, but which failed due to the low availability of the aircraft, among other problems. With the onset of economic sanctions on Russia since the invasion of Crimea in 2014, the state-owned UAC (United Aircraft Corporation), which controls the country’s main aeronautical manufacturers, decided to develop a variant with indigenous components. The list of replacements includes everything from avionics to components such as the landing gear and even the PD-8 turbofan engine, in place of the PowerJet SaM146, a joint venture with France’s Safran.

Superjets proved themselves not only as robust performers on "regional" routes, but fly freely on such traditional very high density routes like Moscow-Sochi or even longer St. Petersburg-Sochi and even Astana-Moscow. In fact, many do not even count them as merely regional jets with their range well within 4,500 kilometers. PD-8 and KRET avionics is what does the trick making this iteration of SSJ export friendly and, in case of Air Koryo, it will be naive to expect fully russified MC-21 being sold to them, not least because of MC-21 being a premium world-class aircraft not needed for specifically North Korea both geographically (route Pyongyang Beijing is 810 kilometers long, to Shanghai--935) and price-wise. Yet, there is a lesson in here once one considers a real state of the global economy, and dramatically accelerating collapse of one of the major pillars of Pax Americana--its soft power, it becomes clear that the export potential of both SSJ New and MC-21 is very impressive. 

But, of course, voluminous Russian commercial aviation market is a priority. That goes without saying--through 2030 Russia's market of commercial aviation needs 1,000 aircraft (in Russian). Aeroflot alone, contracted in September this year 339 Russian-made aircraft (in Russian) through 2030. So, do not forget all those other major carriers, such as S7 with its (for now) new fleet, or Ural Airlines, among many others. They will need to put away those A-321s and B-737s away fairly soon, 2-3 years, and then start replacing them with Russian-made aircraft. Even if to imagine (for the sake of experiment) that combined West moderates itself and even lifts some sanctions--there never, in several generations, will be any trust in any commercial or government institution either from the US or EU, period. I heard Biden today got lost in the space-time continuum, again. You cannot talk to entities who elect themselves Bidens, Johnsons, Trusses, or Sholtzes... waste of time.

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