Russia is considering the possibility of ramping up the production of Tu-214 aircraft to at least 10 per year in light of severe restrictions on the operation of foreign-made civil aircraft in the country due to its invasion of Ukraine.
The Russian Federation Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov hinted to resume the Tu-214 production against the background of Western sanctions. During a working trip to Kazan Aircraft Production Association last week, he said that, if necessary, the state-owned United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) group could restart the construction of passenger Tupolev-214 aircraft dating back to the former Soviet Union era for commercial purposes.
Boosting capacity amid international sanctions
Borisov’s statement comes when Russia is facing the US and European sanctions requiring leasing companies to repossess all aircraft they leased to Russian carriers and blocking the supply of aircraft and components from Western manufacturers to Russian companies. As the country finds itself more and more isolated and faces large-scale challenges in the domestic aviation industry, Russia is looking to boost capacity by expanding the production of Russian wide-body liner Ilyushin IL-96 quad jet, narrowbody contender Irkut MC-21, and Tupolev Tu-214.
The Russian government is leaning into the opportunity to wean itself from dependence on Western technologies and promote its homegrown aircraft. The deputy PM Mr. Borisov, exclaimed the need to restore the production of domestic models to the quantity required to solve the large-scale tasks facing the domestic aviation industry and eliminate the difficulty experienced by Russian citizens to travel within the country and overseas.
On March 17, the CEO of Rostec State Corporation, Sergey Chemezov, said that the company could expand the serial production of medium-range Tupolev Tu-204/214 and IL-96 as an additional measure to the deployment of large-scale serial production of the new import-substituted Sukhoi Superjet New airliners and MC-21. The absolute focus of the Russian aviation industry is to underscore reliance on homegrown technologies and systems and accelerate the implementation of the import substitution programs.
Furthermore, UAC’s General Director, Yuri Sluysar, said that the corporation was ready to cover the capacity gap for Russian airlines by expediting the Tu-214 output to 10 per year, given the availability of qualified personnel to support the scaling production.
At present, small batches of Tu-214 aircraft are used for government operations. With production on the back burner for the last decade, Russia is reviewing the possibility to activate the reserve capabilities of the passenger Tu-214 production to help meet the demand for domestic aircraft in the country.
The operators of Tu-214 aircraft are uncertain, and the question about the possibility of using this airplane by Russian carriers still remains. If Russia activates the reserve of additional production of Tupolev Tu-214, then Tu-214 could undergo modification to the standard Tu-214SM by implementing the developments of Tu-204SM on Ty-214.
About Tupolev Tu-214
Designed during the Soviet era, Tupolev-204 is a medium-range narrowbody aircraft first flown on January 2, 1989. Entering the service with flag carrier Aeroflot in 1996, it features technologies such as fly-by-wire control systems, a glass cockpit, supercritical wings with winglets, and doesn’t require wing anti-icing systems.
The Tu-214 is a variant of the Tu-204 introduced by Kazan Aircraft Production Association on March 21, 1996, featuring a higher gross weight than the Tu-204, extra fuel tanks, and structural adjustments. It has a total seating capacity of up to 210 people and cruises at a maximum range of 4,340km.
While Aeroflot retired the Tu-214 in 2005, only the Russian military and governmental fleets deploy Tu-214s in service. Tu-214 is produced as a small series for the Russian government to be the platform to base all further modifications for the ‘Special Mission’ variants. Some Tupolev Tu-214 aircraft are in airline service, with Rossiya Airlines serving India, Israel, and Mongolia.
Besides Tupolev Tu-214, Russia is also reviewing the big production relaunch of IL-96: a Russian quad jet long-haul wide-body airliner. Powered by four high-bypass Aviadvigatel PS-90 twin engines, it has a standard passenger capacity of 262 seats and flies at the range of 6,209nmi. The current operators of this aircraft are the Russian Ministry of Defence, Rossiya Government, and Cubana de Aviacion.
Both Tupolev Tu-214 and Ilyushin Il-96 are Soviet-era aircraft programs equipped with domestically produced engines and components.
Planned delivery of Irkut MC-21 in September
UAC has anticipated the delivery of a new locally produced commercial jet Irkut MC-21 in September 2022. The flagship project is designed to compete against the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families and is set to enter service with Rossiya Russian Airlines.