Vladimir Krivosheyev,
General director with Aerotechservice company and Aviatechservice-Union center

Upon break-up of the Soviet Union, dozens of industrial companies belonging to the system of Soviet civil aviation and also the manufacturers formally belonging to other industries but working in the interests of the civil aviation, happened to find themselves on the other side of the Russian state border. Those few that did remain in Russia have failed to create any new models of airport equipment. There are a number of foreign companies that offer Russia their airport equipment, including Marsel Bowshunt and Bukher. But at what price? The prices can hardly be called «affordable“ for the majority of local airports with, perhaps, possible exclusion of Sheremetievo, Domodedovo and Pulkovo. In addition to that there is another complication in the form of Russian specific climatic conditions in which western equipment items usually “get a cold”. An added trouble is our high taxes and customs, traditionally high cost of foreign-made spare parts etc. Having assessed the situation, we decided to become members in the Airport international association. We delegated our specialists to a number of committees of this establishment. Now we hold a request from the association for compiling a program for providing active players of the local civil aviation – airports, airlines and industrial facilities – with requisite ground equipment.

We have enjoyed good working relations with many indigenous enterprises. This fact made us think of establishing, on a risk-sharing principles and with support from Aviatechservice-Union center, a powerful scientific association tasked with development, pilot production of experimental examples, certification, mass production and after-sales support of a wide range of airport equipment items. That equipment should be competitive with western counterparts while offering better operational capabilities. Our equipment should be available for much lower prices. This idea materialized in the form of Svetloyar-Avia joint-stock company. Although the company was meant to be a head enterprise, it has already provided a base for a holding structure that has been recently established. Except for Aviatechservice-Union center, the new holding has among its members a number of enterprises based in Nizhny Novgorod including Transport joint-stock company, the Central design bureau of airfoil vessels named after Alekseyev, Volga ship-building plant and Rosoboronkomplekt joint-stock company. Other members are the Moscow-based Experimental factory no.408 of civil aviation and Koltsovo airport of Ekaterinburg. A number of other manufacturing facilities, financial and leasing companies are considering joining us. We have managed to find new technologies yet not used in civil aviation but already in wide use in the area of ground equipment. The core of the new holding is formed by Alekseyev design bureau and Volga plant. Although these companies come from the area dealing with the other nature’s element – the sea – these in fact have tight connections with aviation. Their main products are wing-in-ground effect vehicles which have no competitors in the rest of the world.

Making use of its high technical potential, Alekseyev design bureau offers a whole spectrum of ground equipment for use in airports, including ladders, transporters, specialized vehicles for anti-icing and toilet servicing, compact auxiliary power units, equipment for filling aircraft with hydraulic fluids etc. All these products are fully competitive with the best examples of foreign origin. All of these products can be quickly made available on the market, taking account of moderate backlogs that the high-capacity industrial enterprises of the Russian military-industrial complex’ enterprises have nowadays. Alekseyev design bureau and its industrial partners also offer ultra-low-weight air-cushion amphibian vehicles featuring outstanding cross-country capability. These vehicles are already available and can be delivered to customers in large quantities during a short period of time.

We have worked out a joint policy covering the whole production cycle, from design to deliveries. It was not that easy because many of our customers do not have much cash. We see the only possible solution in leasing schemes. I hope that we have already found mutual understanding and contractual terms suitable for all parties involved. In particular with the two large leasing companies, Mashlizing and Mashlizing-TEK. I hope that the contractual terms we have worked out will be found suitable by our customers.

Let’s take a look at the state program for airport development validated two years ago by the Russian civil aviation authorities. Although it indeed has a great significance, it does not offer practical solutions to the problem of providing airports and airlines with new indigenous equipment for serving, maintaining and repairing aircraft, airports and special ground equipment to do with aviation fuel, lubricants and working fluids. Having done a thorough analysis of the market, as well as of technical capabilities of the local manufacturers, we came to conclusion that the Russian industry, most notably enterprises of the military-industrial complex, have the requisite technologies and manufacturing capacities that yet to be made use of in the interests of the airline industry. That’s the first point. The second point is that any, even the best-ever, programs are not really useful unless they are fully provided with financial resources. Of course, those who put together the state program for airport development could not foresee such fox-major situations like the financial crisis that hit Russia on 17 August 1998. Now, after that crisis, we live in a different economic environment. Today the majority of local airports have lost hope for any worthwhile state investments. Meantime, we have practically developed the mechanism of funding for all the contents of our own program. The holding is set to cooperate not only with Russian airports, but also with aviation enterprises of other CIS counties as well as with aviation structures from the outer world. Therefore our plans call for certification of the above-mentioned products by the Russian national authorities and by the authorities of other countries.

Among our products there are fire-fighting vehicles employing new fire-fighting technologies and flame-suppression mixtures. They can extinguish fires on a lake-like congestion of oil products, as well as titanium and magnum fires. A vehicle for removing ice from surfaces of aircraft and treating the surfaces with anti-icing mixtures is now under development. Unlike foreign vehicles developed for the same purpose, ours will be much easier to operate. We have worked out a principally-new conception of forming inventory of airport vehicles. It calls for a small number of towing trucks and a wide variety of towed units on a wheeled chassis. Changing for such an inventory will help airports and airlines to reduce volume of payments in the forms of taxes, as well as to save much on lower direct operational costs. First examples of such vehicles and units are already in service, for instance with GAZ factory of motor vehicles based in Nizhny Novgorod, which is one of our customers. This is a proof of the claim that our products have a wider market that one might think.

We are ready to offer high-power air cushion vehicles equipped with inflatable sacks. These sacks can be positioned under the wing of an aircraft or its fuselage and provide an easy towing operation, such as towing the aircraft along taxi ways to or from the runway without a threat of mechanical damage. These vehicles can be useful for the Ministry for Emergencies. We possess technologies that allow to create a vehicle for precise weight measuring of the aircraft ready for takeoff. The vehicle will also be able to find position of the airplane’s center of gravity. Introduction of this vehicle in service will allow to eliminate dangerous situations caused by improper loading of aircraft. Most of airport equipment that we are offering will be operationally tested in Koltsovo airport. The airport, together with Ural Airlines, has placed orders for dozens of our vehicles, units and items of special equipment. Now we are in the process of organizing after-sales support for the customers. Our service centers will soon be opened in the territories of equipment manufacturers. Then we plan to open regional maintenance and repair centers tasked with support of out products in service. We are also preparing a comprehensive training system for personnel manning our vehicles and units, which will surely be popular with the users. Under the umbrella of Aviatechservice-Union we have established a center for development of new technologies and special equipment. We will start with serving the needs of the civil aviation and then be moving step-by-step to other markets, offering our services to other industries and the armed forces. The high technological level of Russian defense enterprises that now manufacture our equipment and vehicles give us a hope that our products will be a high quality, reasonably priced and popular with the users.

Russia has always been rich with gifted people. Our land is rich not only with ideas in their minds but also with materialization of creative ideas. We maintain very close partnership with the establishments of applied science, such as the State scientific and research institute of civil aviation and Aeroproekt institute. These establishments have saved their highest scientific potential. We are fully committed to serious partnership with them and to joint efforts in developing specifications to our products, perfecting the products for customer’s satisfaction, conducting operational trials and certifying the products. We also hope to maintain friendly relations with design houses and manufacturers working in the civil aviation system. The doors are open for enterprises from other industries that have creative ideas and the potential to materialize those, and that might be willing to become a member in the holding. We welcome to cooperation all persons that might be interested in joint work with us.