Kazan Gorbunov Aviation Plant is preparing to deliver a serial aircraft with a VIP cabin in 2023
As Realnoe Vremya found out, the first Tu-214 aircraft resuming serial production in Kazan will be delivered in a VIP version – probably deliberately for senior officials of the Russian Federal Security Service. The handover of the “flying headquarters” to Alexander Bortnikov is scheduled for the end of 2023. At the same time, the Kazan aeronautical factory is preparing to produce two airliners with 180 to 190 seats. These passenger machines are unlikely to be cheaper than foreign analogues, so first-time buyers can win with regard to their delivery time, not the price.
A special plane for Alexander Bortnikov?
As Realnoe Vremya found out, the Russian Federal Security Service, and not commercial aviation leasing operators in the country as before, turned out to be the first customer of the first 10 passenger aircraft production program Tu-214 at the Kazan Aviation Plant. The first serial Tu-214 aircraft of the new program that Kazan is building “from scratch” has received a contract from Russian security services, several aviation industry sources said. However, it is built in a separate program for special aviation as the company is the foundation of United Aviation Corporation’s strategic aviation division. With the launch of the first 10-passenger production program, the company is working in two areas at once. The turn towards the security service is linked to the priority of the tasks of the State to ensure the security of the country, they assume. Realnoe Vremya sent a request to the Public Relations Center of the Russian Security Service but no response has yet been received.
“The first Tu-214 will have a VIP cabin,” an interlocutor involved in the aircraft production program revealed some details on the matter. “It will have a small number of chairs (to understand, a standard cabin of a narrow-body Tu-204 aircraft is designed for almost 200 seats).
“This machine is intended for the aviation of the Russian security service,” confirmed another source from Realnoe Vremya. “It is designed for special tasks. First of all, he will have special communication devices. The newspaper’s interlocutors claim that the first aircraft is built to perform special aviation management tasks of the Federal Security Service.
“Any Russian security service official can use it,” a Tupolev representative evasively replied when asked by Realnoe Vremya whether the plane was built for Russian Federal Security Service chief Alexander Bortnikov. “It will be like a VIP passenger plane, but it’s definitely not for the leader of the country.”
In addition, the first Tu-214 passenger aircraft will have a longer range. “Since there will be fewer passengers to transport, there is a possibility of having more fuel and increasing the range. Additional fuel tanks will be installed there,” another aviation industry representative said. Thus, the first aircraft will be able to fly further, not just 6,500 km base. The cost of the plane is estimated at about 3-4 billion rubles.
Yury Slyusar arrives in Kazan once in three weeks
Delivery of the aircraft is scheduled for the end of 2023. This coincides with the next 100e anniversary of the Russian Federal Security Service Aviation, which probably cannot do without congratulations. Is there a better gift for security aviators than a modern airplane?
Earlier, in July, the Kazan Aviation Plant – Tupolev’s subsidiary – already delivered a Tu-214 for the Russian Federal Security Service, which is not surprising since the plant is the main enterprise of the strategic and special aviation division. It should be added that the execution of the Tu-214 program is under special control. According to the newspaper’s interlocutors, the head of the United Aviation Corporation Yury Slyusar holds monthly meetings on the construction of the Tu-2014 and himself arrives in Kazan once in three weeks.
Now the security service aviation brigades mainly have utility helicopters that can land anywhere. Unlike them, mid-range aircraft need an airfield with a good surface. Therefore, simple Soviet Mi-8 helicopters along with Kazan-made Ansat and Bashkir Ka-226 make up the skeleton of the fleet. The Lightweight Finist is one of the aircraft in the fleet assembled in Smolensk.
How Ordinary Aircraft Machines Are Remade
“These are just ordinary aviation machines at first glance,” note specialists describing the aviation fleet of the Russian Federal Security Service. “The aircraft equipment is the main difference. For example, the Ka-226 helicopter is re-equipped to make as little noise as possible. The Ansat, Mi-8 and Finist used by the security service were also redone. They have been modernized deliberately for different operations of the security service. The handover of the airborne command center based on the Il-96-400VPU (270 tons of take-off weight, 900 km/h maximum speed, which is comparable to the Tu-214 and the range is more than 12,000 km) became a milestone in 2015.
However, this aircraft is already well known to the Russian special services. The Tu-214 has long been used as part of the Russian government squadron – there are 12 aircraft that belong to the Russian Ministry of Defense. Also, different modifications are created on its basis for special tasks – intelligence, retransmission, control.
How to assemble 10 Tu-214 aircraft in three years
This year, the Kazan Aviation Plant began construction of 10 Tu-214 passenger planes to replace foreign planes that are ceasing to be used. According to Tupolev’s plans, they should be delivered by 2025, after which the plant hopes to produce 10 aircraft every year. Funding is provided by UAC, Rostec and the company itself.
After Bortnikov’s plane, the Kazan Aircraft Plant will deliver two new airliners in classic versions. According to the deputy general director of the plant, Boris Naishuler, the contract for their supply is being discussed with two airlines which are ready to buy them directly, without leasing operators. It was decided beforehand that the cabin will have 180-190 seats, that is, they are designed to carry passengers.
The substitution of foreign air navigation systems is the main problem. Although the Tu-214 is made up of almost 90% Russian components, problems remain. “Today, 60 items need to be replaced,” noted the interlocutor of Realnoe Vremya.
The cost of passenger planes is not disclosed, but sources tell us that they are unlikely to be cheaper than foreign analogues. As is known, the Boeing 757-200 which is used in many airlines around the world for flights from 3 to 7 thousand km despite its age is considered a close opponent of the Tu-214.
“I can say that the service time of the Tu-214 at Transaero in the early 2000s was 43-450 hours per month. It’s like Boeing and Airbus. Although the energy efficiency of our engines is somewhat lower than that of foreign aircraft, this is not critical, ”noted the interlocutors of Realnoe Vremya.
According to representatives of Tupolev, the Tu-214 will improve. From now on, a transfer of a crew of three people instead of five today is envisaged.