Airbus in Russia
Russia – which has a long history in aeronautics and is among the most important civil aviation markets in the world -- remains a key Airbus strategic partner for both commercial and industrial reasons. For more than 20 years, Airbus has successfully developed its cooperation in the country with the aim to build a long-term mutually beneficial partnership.
As of early 2014, over 270 Airbus aircraft are being operated in the fleets of 11 Russian carriers and VIP service providers, with more than 90 new Airbus jetliners scheduled to be delivered in the coming years.
Airbus established its initial relationship with Russia at the airline level in 1991 when Russian authorities certified the A310 – representing a milestone for Western-built aircraft. The jetliner entered service in Russia with national carrier Aeroflot in 1992, which also became the first Russian airline to operate the A320 Family (beginning in 2003) and A330 (from 2008). Aeroflot currently operates the biggest Airbus fleet in the region, with more than 110 aircraft.
The company’s A320 Family quickly gained popularity among Russian airlines following the single-aisle product line’s commercial service entry in the region during 2003, becoming the backbone of Airbus’ fleet in Russia. Its high fuel efficiency, unprecedented passenger comfort, lower operating costs and faster turn-around times have made the family a hit with leading Russian carriers.
In December 2011, Airbus received its first order for the eco-efficient A320neo (new engine option) from Transaero Airlines, which in June 2012 also became the region’s first carrier to order four A380s.
Airbus has a regional office in Moscow to cover sales and marketing activity, as well as to develop cooperation projects with the Russian aviation industry and provide on-the-spot airline support.
In addition, the Airbus Engineering Centre in Moscow (ECAR) – which currently employs some 200 engineers – is involved in all Airbus programmes. Outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment, ECAR performs extensive work in disciplines such as fuselage structure, stress, system installation and design. The centre is currently involved in the A320neo Sharklets design development as well as numerous design works on the A350 XWB.
The sourcing of materials was one of Airbus’ earliest activities with Russian industry. VSMPO-Avisma is delivering Titanium to Airbus. The companies began their cooperation in the nineties, when the first agreement for supply of raw materials was signed. In recent years, materials supplied by the Russian company have changed considerably, and now include products with higher added value. Also, VSMPO-Avisma is a major supplier of titanium forgings for the main landing gear on the A350 XWB and A380. In 2013, the two companies signed a memorandum of understanding for further strategic collaboration – covering joint study of new alloys, rough machining, the extension of Airbus’ product portfolio and titanium recycling.
Airbus also has entered into an agreement with Russia’s S7 Engineering – a leading maintenance and repair facility – to develop in-country A320 maintenance training.
Russian companies produce components for the A320, the A350 XWB and the A380. The company’s main partner in the country is the Irkut Corporation, which is supplying the nose landing gear bay, keel beam and flap track for the A320 Family. Every third A320 Family aircraft has components produced by the Russian plants as of early 2014.
Airbus continues to actively explore opportunities with the Russian aviation industry, and has completed more than 120 research and technology projects as of early 2014 with the participation of over 1,000 Russian engineers and scientists.