Mikhail Pogosyan was appointed President of Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) in February 2011. After graduating from the Moscow Aviation Institute as an engineer-mechanic, he started his career in the Sukhoi Design Bureau in 1979 where he worked his way up to First Deputy General Designer in 1998.
UAC was established in February 2006 and is formed by more than sixteen separate Joint Stock Companies that include Sukhoi Ilyushin, Tupolev and MiG.
Mikhail Pogosyan talked to EDR at the Singapore Airshow where UAC was promoting its military and civil transport aviation programmes.
Q: Can you outline your current activities in the commercial aircraft sector?
The Sukhoi Superjet 100 is a key programme for UAC and its foreign partners that includes the Italian company Alenia Aermacchi. We have delivered more than 25 aircraft to date which have logged over 23,000 flights totaling in excess of 35,000 flight hours.
Five SSJ100s have been delivered to the Mexican airline, Interjet which was the first western customer for the aircraft. The airline has ordered 20 aircraft with options for ten more. It is the first step to the North and Latin American markets. The aircraft has been performing perfectly, seven days a week and the operator and passengers are happy. We are looking for US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification as soon as possible as there is interest from several US operators.
Q: Is the SSJ100’s success built on a price advantage?
No. That is only one factor. Others include passenger comfort and the fly-by-wire technology that was new for a short haul commercial aircraft. We have developed an internal product for an international market with Russian and foreign partners and we are now developing the family of commercial aircraft that will include the SSJ100 Business Jet and the Long Range version carrying 110 passengers.
Q Can you say something about the Irkut MS-21 regional jet airliner programme?
The MS-21 prototype will be ready for ground testing in 2015. We have learned lesson from the development of the SSJ100 including working with foreign partners. We are establishing a new integration centre for commercial aircraft including the MS-21. Not all the Russian suppliers were able to supply products of the required international standards especially in avionics. But we decided from the beginning that our commercial aircraft would have English cockpits from the beginning.
Q: How close are you to building a wide-body airliner?
It is not the time to discuss wide-body co-operation. We are looking at a wide range of opportunities that will satisfy all the possible partners in a wide-body programme. We may discuss the project with the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China. The market is developing very rapidly and we will talk about the project as soon as possible.
Q: Can you discuss the military programmes and the Su-35 in particular?
In the last 20 years we only developed military aircraft. Now we do have to rely on legacy aircraft. The Su-35 is the best of its generation. Since 2010 we have delivered 10 test aircraft and 12 production aircraft were delivered to the Russian Air Force in 2013. I believe it will find a place in the Chinese market. This will open new opportunities for us now only to supply new aircraft but to develop long-term co-operation with China based on our military aircraft programmes.
Q: In the past, China has copied your aircraft and produced them in China. Could this happen with the Su-35?
Copying is not an instrument of development. We have a clear understanding with China of this. I do not know of any good copies of combat aircraft. If you see something that was designed four years ago and try to copy it you will not succeed in producing a modern aircraft.
We are looking at a different type of co-operation, the copying stage is over. I believe we should look forward, not back.
Q: How is the T-50 PAKFA 5th generation multirole fighter programme progressing?
We have produced five pre-production aircraft by last year and testing by the Russian Air Force will begin this year. The first production aircraft will be delivered in 2016. Technically the T-50 is not a very easy programme either but progress is being made.
Q: Where will the T-50 be produced?
That has not been decided.
Q: what is the status of the Indian Air Force Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) programme which is based on the T-50.
The level of transparency and technology transfer demonstrated in India shows a new level of co-operation compared with other companies. There is no level of misunderstanding with the T-50 programme in India. We will soon have an answer to all these issues. There are very complicated demands associated with the programme and we have established a forum to address these demands. We are now have a good understanding with the Indian Air Force and our Indian partner, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), and the foreign suppliers involved in the FGFA programme.
We are also in partnership with HAL to develop the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA), a twin-jet tactical transport. We are working hard with India in the pre-design phase and it is important to enter the next stage. Full scale design is under discussion and the maiden flight of MTA is planned for 2016.
Q: Can you give details of the export sales of the Yak-130 advanced jet trainer and light attack jet to Algeria and Syria?
The Yak-130 is in production at the Irkutsk plant and 40 have been delivered to the Russian Air Force and sixteen to the Algerian Air Force.
The aircraft has been ordered by Bangladesh and Vietnam.
Q: What is the future strategy for UAC?
Until 2010, our output was 90 percent military. Now we are 50 percent military and 50 percent civil. We have a backlog of 700 civil aircraft which includes 150 SSJ100s, 39 Il-76MD heavy freighters, and a small number of Il-96 wide-body aircraft. We increased production in 2013 by 20 percent over the previous year and plan to produce more than 40 aircraft this year, and more than 50 in 2015. We are also developing new production techniques such as composite main wings for commercial aircraft to compete with the West.
However, our biggest challenge is to integrate the design bureaus with the production plants. For instance we plan to integrate the Mikoyan Experimental Design Bureau with the Sokol Nizhny Novgorod Aircraft Manufacturing Plant, and the Ilyushin Experimental Design Bureau with the Kazan Aviation Production Plant. We also plan to bring together more than 80 electronics and avionics companies together on one group.
This process will take a long time and be complex.