Suppliers to meet 30% of aluminium needs in boost for cash-strapped industrial base

Airbus has selected Russian private company Kaskol as its major partner for design and manufacturing activities in the country.

Kaskol has a 38% stake in the Nizhny Novgorod-based Sokol plant, which manufactures the RSK MiG-29UB, MiG-31, MiG-21-93 and Yakovlev Yak-130 combat aircraft; a controlling stake in landing gear specialist Hydromash; a considerable interest in engine manufacturer NPO Saturn and stakes in over 20 other aerospace enterprises.

Airbus has also selected Russian Aluminum as its second major Russian raw material supplier after VSMPO of Verkhnaya Slada. Airbus purchases 55% of its titanium from VSMPO, worth $10 million a year. The Russian suppliers are expected to meet up to 30% of Airbus's aluminium requirements by 2006.

The deals follow a framework agreement signed by EADS and the Russian state aerospace agency Rosaviacosmos last July that promised cash-starved Russian industry a €2.1 billion ($1.9 billion) turnover in the next decade. Airbus work will include building fuselage sections for the A320 and A330/A340 families, and the cargo floor for the A380F freighter.

"After visiting a dozen design and manufacturing facilities in Moscow, Irkutsk, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Taganrog and Kazan, we turned to Kaskol," says Airbus chief operating officer Gustav Humbert. "Kaskol managers have the same approach to business as we do, they have the same dedication to work for the customer and as much experience in commercial aviation projects as we have," he says.

As a first step, the partners will jointly set up an Airbus/Kaskol engineering centre in Moscow. It will employ 50 Russian engineers trained at Airbus facilities in Hamburg and Toulouse in its first year, and will then see an "incremental extension of skills and capabilities". Boeing established a design centre in Moscow in 1998.

"The difference between Boeing's and ours is that intellectual work will not be exported, but used locally in production of parts designed in Moscow," says Humbert. The second stage of the programme will see the involvement of Russian industry in the manufacturing of Airbus aircraft, he adds.

Source: Flight International