Aleksey Belykh 'flies' to Kazan Helicopters on multi-billion government contracts

The new manager of the Kazan Helicopters plant expects to raise 20 billion rubles through state orders

As Realnoe Vremya found out, the new placeman of Russian Helicopters Group Aleksey Belykh, appointed with the prefix “acting” to manage the Kazan Helicopters plant, is very likely to receive “start-up” state contracts with a preliminary cost of more than 20 billion rubles. The draft decree of the government of the Russian Federation No. 1798 on the withdrawal of federal subsidies from the leasing of the Il-96-400M aircraft in favour of the purchase of 39 domestic aircraft is in the final stage of approval. Among them, there are 36 items of Kazan MI-8, Ansat and Mi-38 helicopters, which are expected to be built by 2023. Helicopter operators note with concern that the prices announced for new Russian helicopters are close to Western values, and they are determined to fly on the old Soviet aircraft.

New steering wheel from competitors

Today, the Kazan Helicopters plant, part of the Russian Helicopters holding, is being taken over by a new leader — a varyag from Buryatia. Aleksey Belykh, 43, is the son of Leonid Belykh, one of Russia's oldest helicopter builders and former director general of the Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant. His candidacy was proposed by Russian Helicopters.

Today, Kazan Helicopters, part of Russian Helicopters holding, is being taken over by a new director — a varyag from Buryatia. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Predecessor Yury Pustovgarov, invited 2 years ago from Bashkiria (managed the Kumertau Aviation Production Enterprise), leaves for Moscow. “We confirm that Yury Leonidovich Pustovgarov is resigning as managing director of Kazan Helicopters PJSC by agreement of the parties. He headed the company from February 2018. Aleksey Belykh, the first deputy managing director, will be appointed as acting director. .

The difficulty of perceiving the next personnel appointment is not in the frequent change of managers, but in the leadership of someone who has historically competed with Kazan Helicopters in world markets, Realnoe Vremya interlocutors note. “It is no secret that Kazan and Ulan-Ude produce the best-selling brand of the Russian MI8/Mi17 helicopter on the world markets. It is no secret that they have repeatedly had to “fight”, pulling each other's expensive contracts. It is no secret that relations between these plants are strained, to put it mildly, and will remain so for a long time," they explained the reason for the already tense situation.

Yury Pustovgarov (right), invited 2 years ago from Bashkiria, leaves for Moscow. Archival photo: Maksim Platonov

A stroke of luck

The portfolio of state contracts for aircraft leasing formed by the State Transport Leasing Company (GTLK) can help the new executive, Aleksey Belykh, to take the “hot” position. The interlocutor of Realnoe Vremya believes that the expected order for at least 36 Kazan helicopters will make it easier for helicopter builders to move the upcoming difficult year, and for the new manager — to win the favour and loyalty of Kazan Helicopters. “If everything works out, Aleksey Belykh will get a big advance for the future," the source believes, pointing out that he was “just lucky to be in the right place at the right time”.

We are talking about an unexpected and radical redrawing of multibillion-dollar state subsidies allocated this year to support Russian aircraft. At the end of October, the ministry of transport of Russia published a draft resolution of the government of the Russian Federation, which proposes to abandon the leasing of long-haul passenger aircraft Il-96-400M, produced in Voronezh by United Aircraft Corporation JSC. Initially, it was planned to allocate 13,8 billion rubles of subsidies to support the leasing of these aircraft, and another 7,2 billion rubles for the purchase of Il-96-400M. In total, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) lost more than 20 billion rubles.

The Russian ministry of transport pledged 16,9 billion rubles for the purchase of 39 units of domestic aircraft. Photo: Maksim Platonov

However, as a result of the change in priorities, the Russian ministry of transport pledged 16,9 billion rubles for the purchase of 39 units of domestic aircraft. As stated in the document, for the purpose of further transfer to leasing, lease on preferential terms. Among them — 36 helicopters, as well as 3 Il-114-300 aircraft. The procurement programme is designed for 2021-2023.

49 helicopters for 3 years from GTLK

However, in the list, the volume of helicopter purchases by the GTLK (State Transport Leasing Company) turned out to be wider than indicated in the explanatory note. It lists 49 helicopters worth more than 20 billion rubles. For example, next year, the GTLK plans to purchase seven Mi-8 helicopters, the total cost of which is 2,9 billion rubles, as well as three light Ansat helicopters worth 625,8 million rubles. It should be understood that they should now be in the final stage of construction. As a result, the portfolio from the GTLK is worth more than 3 billion rubles.

In 2022, purchases will be increase: these are 12 Mi-8 helicopters worth 5,5 billion rubles, one Mi-38 for 1,3 billion rubles and two sanitary Ansat helicopters for 508 million rubles. In total, about 8 billion rubles.

However, it is difficult to imagine who will lease the Mi-38 for 1,5 billion rubles. Photo: Maksim Platonov

The peak of purchases is planned for 2023: then for the first time the plant should produce 14 Mi-8 transport helicopters for 2,6 billion rubles, four upgraded Ansats for 1,3 billion rubles, one Mi-38 for 1,4 billion rubles and two conventional Ansats for 0,5 billion rubles. As a result — again about 8 billion rubles. Mi-8, Mi-38 and Ansats can be leased to Komiaviatrans, VAP, Converse Avia, SKOL, RVS, Yeltsovka, Nizhnevartovskavia, and Naryan-Mar JSC. However, it is difficult to imagine who will lease the Mi-38 for 1,5 billion rubles.

As stated in the passport document, the project was prepared following a meeting on the development of the aviation industry and air transportation, held on May 13, 2020. “The draft decree of the government of the Russian Federation is in the final stage of approval in the Office of the Government of the Russian Federation," the press service of the GTLK reported and confirmed in the ministry of transport of the Russian Federation.

Expensive flight time

However, helicopter operators are concerned that the prices announced for new Russian helicopters are close to Western values.

“Based on the price of the Ansat in 200-300 million rubles, we can say that the cost of a flight hour will be 30 per cent more expensive than on a Soviet car. But we are not ready to take Ansat not because of the price, but because of its characteristics. The main drawback is the short flight range, small tank capacity, which is necessary for patrolling the pipeline system," said Magomed Zakarzhaev, the director general of Kazan Airlines JSC (serving Transneft's facilities in the Republic of Tatarstan).

According to him, the ambulance Ansat can fly to Aktanysh with a transfer and barely reaches the shuttles: “I Know that they want to increase the upgraded one to 700 km. We fly Bell and Mi-8 helicopters with a range of 700 km and without additional tanks.”

Yevgeny Matveev, senior researcher at the Zhukovsky Academy, I agree that the prices of Kazan Helicopters have come close to Western analogues, so manufacturers need to think about how operators can take them and earn.

By Luiza Ignatyeva