Vladimir Karnozov / Moscow

Libian Air Cargo An-124 W445
© Vladimir Karnozov

Antonov has offered An-124s as a stopgap until the Airbus Military A400M is available.

The aerospace industry in Poland’s eastern neighbour Ukraine is undergoing a burst of consolidation, the new government signing into law last May a process which will see a clutch of state-owned enterprises merge into one entity: NPO Antonov.

Four formerly separate com­panies – the Antonov design bureau, which also runs the An­ton­ov Airlines heavylift specialist; Kiev State Aviation Plant or Aviant; Kharkov State Aircraft Manufac­turing (KSAMC) and Kiev Aircraft Repair Station – will be amalgamated into the new organ­isation. State aviation research institute UkrNIIAT will be added later.

The organisations – together employing about 20,000 people – have not always been the best of bedfellows, with a legal dispute still pending between the Antonov design house and KSAMC over payments. One of new director-general Anatoly Myalitsa’s tasks will be to instil a degree of harmony among the various units.

NPO Antonov will be run by a board comprising Myalitsa, four directors of the individual businesses and two government-appointed representatives. If all goes to plan, the government will sell half the amalgamated company between 2008 and 2010, with the state retaining the remaining stake.

NPO Antonov’s major focus – Myalitsa has said – will be on the new An-148 regional jet, with the company aiming to build 34 aircraft by 2010. Ministers have set him an “immediate task” to also increase output of the An-140 turboprop and the An-70 airlifter. “The scale of production needs to move from units to dozens a year,” the government says.

That could be a tall order. Last year, Ukrainian industry produced just eight aircraft and, during the past five years, only 22. The country’s industry minister Vladimir Shandra says its aerospace capacity is “underloaded” and that having a single company res­ponsible for all the country’s aircraft programmes will lead to better marketing. KSAMC alone must assemble 12 aircraft a year to achieve “proper” financial stablility, says Shandra. To this end, Ukraine’s airlines are being encour­aged to renew their fleets through a state-backed leasing scheme.

Fifteen years after the break-up of the Soviet Union and with a more pro-West president, Victor Yushenko, Ukraine is keen to foster closer links with its neighbours in central Europe. Myalitsa and newly appointed Antonov general designer Dmitry Kiva both worked closely with Poland’s aerospace industry in Soviet times, with Kiva involved in the programme to licence-build a version of the Antonov An-28 in Poland. At an economic forum between the two countries last year, Polish president Alexander Kvasnevsky said aviation was one of the key areas for stronger co-operation.

However, as an old-style “red director”, Myalitsa, formerly general director of KSAMC and a minister in the former Moscow-friendly government, may not be keen to abandon links with Russia in favour of integrating Ukraine’s industry into the global industry. He favours Ukraine retaining ownership of its own aircraft programmes. “Our niche is airlifters and regional aircraft,” he says. “We have already achieved results in these sectors and we still keep control of the whole chain, from development to manufacture to aftersales support.” He believes in industrial co-operation with countries inclined to buy Ukrainian and Russian aircraft, such as China, Iran and some North African countries. Recent customers for Ukrainian products include Egypt (An-74 tactical airlifters), Libya (An-32P firefighting aircraft) and Azerbaijan (An-140s).

The only prospective Western customers are European NATO countries that have ordered the Airbus Military A400M and to which Antonov has offered An-124-100s to provide stopgap airlift capacity before A400M becomes available. The manufacturer says it can provide six An-124s, with two more aircraft on standby, by 2012.

An-140 W445
© Vladimir Karnozov

One of the new company's first tasks will be to increase production of the An-140 turboprop

Source: Flight International