Russia’s aircraft interiors business is determined to reduce the country’s reliance on foreign suppliers–a goal that may or may not be connected to the threat of further Western economic sanctions against Russia. The only media briefing at the entire three-day JetExpo’2014 show came from AKAI, the Russian acronym for Association of Aviation Interior Companies. “One of the top priorities now is to reduce Russia’s dependence on global market conjuncture, and on Western suppliers,” said the association’s president Vitaly Romanyuk, who is also general manager at Russian interior fabricator Vemina Aviaprestige. To accomplish this independence for Russian business aircraft conversions, AKAI would need to expand local availability of VIPconversions on currently produced airliner types and enhance local companies’ capabilities in maintaining earlier-model imported Western aircraft.

veminajetexpoRomanyuk said Vemina and its industrial partners have installed their VIP interiors in 85 converted passenger jets and Mi-8 series helicopters. The company has expanded its facility at Moscow Sheremetievo airport where it services Aeroflot’s Airbuses and Boeings. The corporate strategy going forward calls for gradual expansion of VIP andVVIP conversion work it performs under its EASA Part 145 certificate.

Romanyuk said the association members are proud of the work done on the VVIPSukhoi Superjet 100 on display at JetExpo’2014. AKAI member Aerostyle was the lead contractor for the interior work, and several other association members worked as sub-contractors. “We are ready to do the same kind of work on many more Superjets, including those destined for the Ministry of Interior and the Ministry for Emergencies,” said Romanyuk.

The immediate goal is to form “a limited-series edition of seven to 10 Superjet 100-95BVIP aircraft,” he continued. Most of these would go to government entities and large corporations such as Rostec. These two end-user markets have broadly similar requirements and expectations from their Superjets. The economy of scale from such a production run is expected to reduce the cost per aircraft conversion by as much as half (compared to the cost for the display Sukhoi). AKAI member interior specialists believe they can ultimately perform the same work as prominent European completion and conversion facilities at half the price.

Plans call for future VIP-configured Superjets to be marketed to foreign customers who might be impressed with the appointments enjoyed by Russian government members. To address competition, local interior specialists will strive to provide their predominantly Russian aircraft for the global market at lower rates. They see their competition as Airbus Corporate Jets and Boeing Business Jets, but the main rival is Embraer’s Lineage-1000.In addition to work on Sukhoi’s Superjet, “much work was done” since last year’s JetExpo on shaping VIP interior solutions for the MC-21 next-generation narrow-body jetliner being developed by Irkut. “We believe that this airplane should be available, from the very start of deliveries, in both passenger and VVIP configurations,” Romanyuk says.

To be able to offer Russian airframers a complete package, association members are also developing their expertise in composites and other modern materials, in-flight entertainment and life-support systems. Vemina alone is halfway through its six-year, 200-million-rouble investment program (spanning 2010 to 2016) aimed at modernizing its production base. “Our goal is to squeeze out U.S.- and EU-made systems and items that did not meet the expectations of VVIP aircraft users on some local aircraft,” said Romanyuk, hinting at the systems onboard the Ilyushin Il-96-300VVIP conversions operated by the flight department serving President Putin and his ministers.

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