According to credible Ukrainian sources, talks between U.S. aircraft manufacturer, Boeing, and its Ukrainian peer, Antonov, aimed at a closer cooperation are at an advanced stage. There
is even talk of a JV from the Ukrainian side.
The Kiev government initiated the negotiations aimed at further tightening the existing ties between state-owned aircraft producer Antonov and Aviall, a Dallas, Texas-based Boeing subsidiary.
There have been connections between the two companies for years. At the Farnborough air show in August 2018, they signed a cooperation agreement that provided for logistical support and the procurement of components for Antonov aircraft assured by Aviall. Now Kiev apparently wants to expand the existing cooperation and take it to a higher level.
Boeing is Kiev’s bearer of hope
As a background to the advance, aviation experts believe that the Ukrainian side intends to bind the Boeing group, which is known for its strong ties to the Trump administration, more closely to Antonov. Topics of interest are, for example, tailored logistical and after-sales support, procurement issues, and the storage and management of aircraft components and spare parts.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the USA, Volodymyr Yelchenko, has confirmed the ongoing talks between both sides: “Recently, we have submitted project proposals on behalf of Antonov to Boeing,” he confirmed to media people. In his statements, he pointed out that the U.S. manufacturer may be interested, if not in general production, then at least in partial participation in Antonov construction programs, carried out either in the Ukraine or the USA. “I believe that the future of Antonov and the entire Ukrainian aviation industry greatly depends on the cooperation with Boeing, consented and politically supported by Washington," Mr. Yelchenko is quoted by Russian publication Riafan.ru in a toxic report on the project.
AN - Boeing JV?
Further to this, Mr. Yelchenko told media people that Boeing is also considering producing large freighters in cooperation with Antonov, since there is growing demand for cargo aircraft capable of transporting outsized and / or very heavy items over longer distances; a job that Antonov’s aging workhorse AN-124-100 has carried out since its initial presentation at the Le Bourget, Paris-held airshow in May 1985. “In this respect, Antonov, of course, has a lot to offer. I hope that we will come to specific agreements, which could include creating a joint venture between Antonov and Boeing. I would very much like to see these plans being implemented,” the diplomat told media very frankly.
After-sales business is key factor for success or failure
But is this project realistic, or is it nothing but a reflection of the hopes and dreams of the Kiev politicians who are under constant pressure of the Putin regime and notoriously short of cash? Aviation expert, Heinrich Grossbongardt, who managed the Boeing communication in Central Europe for many years, is skeptical. “The ill-fated Russian Superjet 100 shows in a nutshell that the key factor of success or failure is the after-sales support of a new aircraft production series. If that doesn’t work, no commercial airline will purchase such an aircraft voluntarily.”
Against this background, it makes sense for Antonov and Boeing daughter Aviall to move closer together, because this guarantees buyers of the AN-178 freighter or any other Antonov produced variants an unlimited service and immediate support if needed. However, Grossbongardt does not think much of the joint venture plan trumpeted by the Ambassador: "It's unlikely to happen," the expert states.
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