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OPINION: United Aircraft strategy lacks family values

Consolidation and integration of airliner production, on both a corporate and industrial basis, is a complicated business for an industry that tends to stress the importance of family.

Russia's all-encompassing United Aircraft brand might reflect its corporate side but it belies the company's industrial disparity.

The company's arc covers the Sukhoi Superjet and Irkut MC-21, the CRAIC CR929 venture with China, the revived Ilyushin Il-114, plus the Tupolev Tu-204 – a mix of jets and turboprops, new designs and old.

Its pick'n'mix of civil aircraft flavours and markets is a consequence of the historical development of air transport through the Soviet era, but it contrasts with the single-brand, single-family impression presented by Airbus and Boeing – an impression both will be intent on preserving as they embark on the assimilation of external types into their line-up.

Sukhoi and Irkut have adopted separate family ­concepts for the Superjet and MC-21, but a stated ­objective of bringing the two aircraft closer together will be tough to achieve at a technical level.

Russia's continuing pursuit of an apples-and-oranges strategy, and its preference for an extended family of cousins and step-siblings remained at odds with the industry trend even before Airbus and Boeing's latest convergences. Aircraft, yes. United, no.

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