Interview With MiG's Nikitin
By Vovick Karnozov
AWN Moscow-based columnist
Interview with Nikolai Nikitin, general director and general designer of RSK MiG
AWN: The French and Russian governments came to terms on a Fr 400 million for the program of the MiG AT jet trainer. What portion of that money and in which form will come to RSK MiG?
Nikitin: Yes, the press reported on that fact. Our company just mentioned about this in one of our press-releases. We have not released any additional information on it, restricting ourselves to the very fact. Let me remind you that the first body to broadcast information on that interstate agreement was the press service of the White House (here: House of the Russian government). We continue to keep silent about it. So, no comments.
AWN: Are you satisfied with work of the AL-41F engines on the Article 1.44?
Nikitin: The aircraft you are talking about is an experimental air vehicle, technology demonstrator. It was specially built to test new equipment. Such aircraft are built to make the way from non-satisfaction to satisfaction with various systems, including the power plant. Now we have a flight test program ahead of us, a hard job on perfecting the new hardware, including the AL-41F engine.
AWN: How did the engines perform during the first flight of the Article 1.44?
Nikitin: They performed satisfactorily. It could not have been the other way: otherwise the plane would never land.
AWN: Does you company have plans for using this engine on other aircraft designs?
Nikitin: Surely. And only RSK MiG, but also other aircraft developers. In a sense, the whole country looks at this engine with a great deal of hope.
AWN: What is the situation like with the MiG-29SMT2? Has it flown? Is it for inner use only or it is intended for export as well?
Nikitin: The situation is normal. The first example of the aircraft is now undergoing flight trials. It had its maiden flight in February. It is an improved version of the MiG-29 fighter. In fact, the MiG-29SMT and MiG-29SMT2 are two variants of modernization, two offers to the customers. We work on these two projects in parallel. The SMT2 is intended for both the Russian air force and foreign customers.
AWN: Is that true that in 1999 RSK MiG did not provide the whole amount of money promised to Tupolev for development of the Tu-334 project?
Nikitin: It is the first time I hear this. Try to call Igor Kalygin, chief designer for the Tu-334 at Tupolev. I think he would tell you that your information is wrong. Let me assure you that all the funds that we promised Tupolev for the Tu-334 flight test program were transferred to Tupolev company in time.
Let me add that we are fully committed to the Tu-334 project. In a sense, it might be the last chance for our company to survive, so we can not miss it. But to succeed, we must accept a new (to us) philosophy, the philosophy that places above all else the customer - in our case airlines - with its needs. We must follow the new (to us) financial management principles, such as focusing all resources available on most critical programs. You know how we and other Russian aircraft developers used to work with our subcontractors and suppliers. "I worked with Ivan Ivanovich who heads the company A for years so that I should give him a new order for something". This "old good days" philosophy has to be dealt with. Instead, there must be carefully thought-out planning, concentration of resources on most critical directions leading to commercial success. We find the Tu-334 as just that sort of directions. We shall work closely with airlines so as to make the aircraft come up to their expectation, to be a sort of airplanes they will be happy to operate.
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