by Richard Pettibone, Forecast International
Ilyushin is part of Russia’s United Aircraft Corp (UAC) conglomerate, which was formed through the absorption of firms such as MiG, Irkut, Ilyushin, Sukhoi, and Tupolev.
The formation of a single entity in this sector was targeted toward eliminating domestic competition, lowering manufacturing expenses, and reducing excess manufacturing capacity. So far, though, the results have been mixed. Though UAC’s military aircraft have benefitted from its historic alliances, the outlook for commercial aircraft remains daunting – especially in light of increased competition from China. Further, the company must deal with a depressed economic market, as well as facing off against the titans, Airbus and Boeing.
So far, Ilyushin’s commercial performance – the company’s forte – has been bleak. Production of Ilyushin’s models has been anemic for years. The TAPO facility that produces the Il-114 was placed under bankruptcy administration in 2010, and by 2012, part of that plant had been converted for the production of automobiles. The operation emerged from bankruptcy in 2013, and was renamed Tashkent Mechanical Plant on January 1, 2014. The facility maintains a focus on aircraft assembly and MRO services.
However, the conflict in the Ukraine is leading Russia to turn inwards for production and this could be a boon to several Ilyushin programs. The worsening relations have prompted the Russian government to pull out of it plan to acquire Ukraine’s Antonov An-140 aircraft. Instead, Russia will revive the Il-112 military transport aircraft and develop the Il-114 turboprop.
Plans are under way for a pair of Il-112s to be produced for testing. Ilyushin is believed to be refreshing the designs to incorporate as much current technology as possible. The Il-112 and the new version of the Il-114 would share onboard systems and powerplants, making both projects, to some extent, more economically viable.
As part of Russia’s modernization effort, Ilyushin is also benefitting. Most recently, in late 2014, Russia’s Ministry of Defense unveiled plans to acquire more than 150 new aircraft and helicopters in 2015 as part of plans to bolster and modernize the country’s Air Force. Under this effort, the Russian MoD pushed ahead with a revived Il-76 variant, having ordered 39 new Il-76MD-90A2s (credit waqas). According to reports, UAC officials feel there is a market for 150-200 of the new aircraft over the next 17 years.
With other commercial programs running out of backlog, Ilyushin may end up a niche manufacturer, as resources are directed to high-profile programs such as the Sukhoi Superjet 100 and the MC-21.