Light-engine “farmers” to land in Innopolis: Rostec relocating assembly production outside Kazan
The state corporation is going to build a small aircraft plant with an airfield worth 2,5 billion rubles
On 22 May, director general of Rostec corporation Sergey Chemezov and President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov laid the foundations of the construction project of the assembly production of T-500 agricultural aircrafts developed by Mven, a company from Kazan, and an individual airfield for experimental aircrafts in Innopolis. Rostec itself is negotiating with several investors for its implementation on the terms of private-public partnership.
Flying “farmers” in Innopolis
Rostec has undertaken the scaling of the production of T-500 agricultural aircraft, which is still in embryonic form in Kazan. The long-term development of the Kazan firm Mven, which received the approval of the president of the Russian Federation at 2017 MAKS Air Show, was first certified by Federal Air Transport Agency of Russia with the support of Rostec, and then received funding for the construction of the first series under the contract for the supply of 10 T-500 aircrafts worth 200 million rubles, signed by Rostec and the Bashkir airline Rusavia. Its contractors Mven PLC and ORPE Teсhnologiya named after A.G. Romashin JSC, which signed a contract for the assembly and supply of the pilot batch in May 2018.
On 22 May at Digital Industry of Industrial Russia 2019 conference, ten light white-wing gliders made of composite materials “landed” on the territory of Innopolis. They were lined in the middle of the “bald” square: as was the case a year ago, there is still not a single tree, not a single flower garden, so nothing natural prevented from relocating the aircraft from the Kazan production site in Innopolis. “The flying squad” of Kazan “farmers” looked at this high-tech field like absolute masters. Interestingly, the last in the column was the plane with improved “floating” modification — with “floats” on the chassis (that is, the hydroplane capable of landing on the water). Although it was located close to the stage it was never noticed. Half an hour before the arrival of the distinguished guests, it began to drizzle, driving many of them under a large tent.
Director General of Rostec state corporation Sergey Chemezov and Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov, bypassing the division of light-engine “farmers”, focused on the layout of the future plant for their assembling. Choosing from eight proposed production sites in Kazan, Rostec decided to anchor in Innopolis. The plant will have to be built together with the airfield for experimental aviation. As a result, the complex is going to occupy an area of over 300 hectares.
It does not melt in the heat, it does not sink on the water
Andrey Silkin, the director general of ORPE Teсhnologiya named after A.G. Romashin, told Sergey Chemezov and Rustam Minnikhanov about how it is designed in digital format. The configuration of the plant, as it follows from his words, is going to be traditional for the final assembly. It is the chain of assembly shop and assembly hangar for aircraft storage. The runway of the experimental airfield is going to be 650 metres.
According to Andrey Silkin, the aircraft assembling is expected to be carried out in cooperation between ORPE Teсhnologiya named after A.G. Romashin and Kazan enterprises. Technologiya retains the fabrication of composite products using autoclave moulding methods. Rustam Minnikhanov approvingly nodded — if cooperation, then that's great. According to Andrey Silkin, the plant is expected to be built by 2020, and in two years to enter mass production with an assembly volume of 60-100 aircrafts a year.
“We’ve come to this project for a reason,” Andrey Silkin continued to explain. “We were manufacturers of gliders for Su-26, Su-29 and Su-31. These are sports aircrafts that were known in the 1980s. Since then, our competencies have remained, but we have followed the path of agricultural aircraft. Why? Because this market is much bigger. This is the international market as well.” “Is something similar produced in the world?” Sergey Chemezov asked.
“In the world, quite a lot is done in this area,” Silkin designated the common interest in small aircraft. “There is the biggest, the leader of everything — it is the air tractor. A metal plane, it looks very similar to T-500. But slightly more and with the gas turbine engine. But it is worth completely different money (by the way, T-500 from the first series cost 20 million rubles — editor’s note),” he said evasively. But his partner, head of Mven Ilya Yermolenko, specified: three times higher, or about $1,5 million.
“What makes our aircraft unique?” Sergey Chemezov continued to ask. It turned out that the T-500 is endowed with certain qualities. “Since we applied the available in Rostec technology of the element production using autoclave moulding, then this aircraft does not ‘melt’ in the heat,” said Silkin. “Other aircrafts made of composites by small companies lose their geometry. In a hot country, their ‘beak’ goes down, and here they proudly look in the right plane.”
As a result, the project was approved by the head of Rostec. This means that the final assembly production will be relocated from Kazan to Innopolis.
313 hectares of competitive land
At the official ceremony, the president of the Republic of Tatarstan announced the signing of the decree on allocation of land for the construction of the plant. “About 313 hectares of the most competitive land has been provided for this task,” he said and gave the director general of Rostec the order in a special frame. The president believes it important to locate the assembly plant and the airfield complex near Innopolis. “So, the intellectual part of the further development of this project will be here. We fully support this project,” Minnikhanov said.
Answering journalists' questions, Sergey Chemezov said that the construction of the assembly plant of the aircraft and the airfield of experimental aviation will cost 2,5 billion rubles. “We are opening the plant in 2022. As for financing, first of all, of course, mainly it will be private funds, private-public partnership,” Chemezov said.
But who will partner with Rostec? According to him, it is too early to say which of the investors will enter the project, negotiations are underway with many. “Today, the financing relies mainly on the state corporation and some private investors. We have already started designing. I hope that by the end of this year the project will be ready, and next year we will start the construction itself,” said the head of Rostec. Chemezov added that the plant is going to produce from 60 to 100 aircrafts a year, and “if the requirements grow, of course, we will increase the capacity.”
Let us remind that the project is implemented by Rostec state corporation together with Tatarstan in the framework of the agreement on the creation and implementation in the republic of the all-Russian system of aircraft chemical works, which was signed at 2017 MAKS. A plot of land for the construction of the facility has been allocated by the government of Tatarstan. The territory of the enterprise is going to be part of the special economic zone Innopolis, which will make it possible to obtain corresponding preferences, including tax benefits.
It doesn’t appear in leasing list
However, the light-engine aircraft itself is not yet ready for commissioning — it is being tested at the military airfield of the Kazan Aircraft Production Association and the final adjustments will be completed in the near future. There is no mechanism for its sale yet.
As reported in Rosagroleasing, to date the T-500 agricultural aircraft is not listed in the leasing list. Accordingly, there are no concluded lease agreements for the supply of such equipment.
Rosagroleasing JSC is sensitive to the needs of farmers in the country in modern and high-tech equipment for agricultural work. Already today, contracts have been signed with suppliers of highly specialized equipment in demand in rural areas, for example, for viticulture, flax growing, vegetable growing. In case of requests from agricultural producers for the supply of T-500 aircraft on preferential leasing terms, the company will consider the possibility of including such equipment in the nomenclature,” the company reported.