Based on my current knowledge about the state of civil aircraft manufacturing industry in Russia and Ukraine, I can say with reasonable confidence that engines (also known as powerplants) are one of the key barriers to acceptance of current (An-148, Il-96, Tu-204, Tu-334) and upcoming (MS-21, Superjet 100) Russian/Ukrainian civil aircraft among Western customers (Note: MS-21 uses a P&W GTF engine as its standard powerplant, with the option of Aviadvigatel PD-14 engine). Western customers just do not trust the current breed of engines made by Aviadvigatel, Progress, et al.
I hypothesize that the acceptance of Russian/Ukrainian civil aircraft will continue to be zero/near-zero among mainstream Western operators until Russia/Ukraine:
- Either develop all-new engines that are at-par with engines from CFM/GE/IAE/P&W/Rolls-Royce/Snecma;
- Or equip existing and upcoming aircraft with Western engines.
Of course, neither of the above steps will help alone unless Russia/Ukraine also address the (many) other technical and service/support barriers (and possibly political barriers as well) preventing large operators worldwide from betting on these aircraft.
What qualities are desirable in aircraft engines? I can think of these:
- Low fuel burn
- Low emissions
- Low noise
- Low vibration
- Low weight
- Low maintenance requirements
- Low cost of the engine
- Low cost of spares
- High performance (meets requirements of the host aircraft)
- High durability/reliability
- High resilience/safety/tolerance
- Automatic early warning systems (in case of malfunctioning)
- High serviciability (cheap/easy to service and repair)
- High availability of spare components
- High compatibility (supports many of the currently popular and promising upcoming aircraft models)
- High modifiability/upgradability (easy to downgrade, modify, or upgrade the basic design for different aircraft types)
- High recyclability (easy and profitable to comprehensively recycle old/written-off engines)
- Easy manageability (fully automated/computerized engine with easy management/operation)
- Compliant with global standards for aircraft engines
- Supports any alternative aviation fuels being standardized for near-future implementation
New engines such as the Aviadvigatel PD-14, PowerJet SaM146, and Progress D-27 are steps in the right direction, but Russia and Ukraine need to do a lot more - including, possibly, a consolidation of major engine-makers (akin to the formation of UAC) - before their indigenous engines are considered as a threat to Western engines.
A consolidation of major Russian/Ukrainian engine-makers looks as promising as PowerJet-like collaborations with Western makers - it'll create a large pool of engineering talent, funds, infrastructure, IP/patents and other assets, and hopefully result in new powerplants that bring sleepless nights to GE, Pratt and Rolls executives...