Not only Lord works in mysterious ways but also many Russian economic managers. The illustrative example of this is the start of reforming the Russian helicopter industry. The merging of the two design bureaus named after Mikhail Mil and Nikolai Kamov by Russian Helicopters might lead to their destruction Recently, almost all the main media channels have reported that one of the executives of Russian Helicopters in “heavy thoughts about the Russian helicopter industry” either had chased squirrels, or photographed them, and as a result had broken his neck and got into resuscitation department. No sooner had the news left the media scene than other executives of the helicopter holding officially announced the beginning of restructuring of the two world-known helicopter design bureaus that Russia had received from the USSR. At the meeting of the board of directors of Russian Helicopters, a final decision was to merge two helicopter design schools.
Reorganization or destruction of Soviet heritage?
Russian News Agency TASS has reported that the board of directors at Russian Helicopters approved a roadmap on the merger of Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and JSC Kamov into the Mil and Kamov National Helicopter Center (JSC). Many reputable publications began to comment actively on this news, quoting some sources. However, judging by the comments, it is unlikely that anybody had an opportunity to drill down the relevant materials of Russian Helicopters.
A copy of the above mentioned “map” approved by Andrey Boginsky on 03.10.2019, as well as the illustrated “Presentation on Implementation of Restructuring Measures..." are available at the editors office. Although the logic of these materials is unrefined, we still tried to analyze them, as it is not a private question, but from our point of view, a decision affecting the fate of the entire industry.
We have repeatedly raised the question of merging two Soviet design bureaus named after Mikhail Mil and Nikolai Kamov, for example, in the article “Who Does Minister Manturov Work For?” Following the consequences, it has become clear that the action, carried out with the direct support of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, was intended to destroy the Russian helicopter industry. The available materials only confirmed the hypothesis made earlier.
There are no specifics but regular “clichés” in the official materials related to the restructuring of the two bureaus. It is noteworthy that the purpose of the restructuring is not the construction of new helicopters (those, by the way, have stopped to appear after the establishment of the helicopter holding company), but the optimization of structures, personnel, processes, etc.
For example, at the very beginning of the “Presentation...” (p. 3) it is stated that as a result of the initial restructuring measures carried out for the years 2011-2015 by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and Kamov, the total area of both bureaus decreased by 42%, the area of buildings by 22%, and the average number of employees by 15% (that is, an obvious job cut). It is well known that after 2011, both “optimized” design bureaus did not construct or bring to market any brand new helicopter. On the contrary, during this time such projects as Mi-34, Mi-54, as well as the Kamov developments at different stages of design were lost.
It should also be noted that the consolidation of Kamov was carried out practically in a very original way. Its employees were shoved in large numbers in a brand new building, proudly called the “the center of helicopter industry” that had been built for the Mil Design Bureau. Some of them were placed...in the elevator halls of the center.
Of course, it is possible to proudly announce the optimization of space, but job placement in the elevator halls is, perhaps, a unique experience inherent exclusively in Russian Helicopters. Some parallels might be drawn to the desire of Bulgakov's housekeeper Schwonder to squeeze Professor Preobrazhensky, who occupied (in Schwonder's opinion) too much space. It turns out that the “helicopter housekeeper” Andrei Boginsky wants to force the designers to work in the elevator halls, just as Schwonder suggested that Preobrazhensky operate in the dining room. Isn't it a very similar case?
Legal Destruction of Design Bureaus
When it comes to reorganization, Boginsky keeps repeating that design bureaus will survive. This is stated in the “Presentation ...” on p.22: “The trademark Mi and Ka, as well as design schools will be retained. However, the documents available to the editorial office suggest the opposite.
From the same “Presentation...” (p. 4) it follows that general designers of both design bureaus are downgraded to the status of chief designers. And the roadmap approved by Boginsky actually is a step-by-step plan of legal destruction of both schools.
The main items of this plan:
2.1.19. State registration of Kamov JSC cessation of its business.
3.4.6 Notification of counterparties of the change of name of JSC Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant.
8.4. Renewal of seals.
Chapter 9. Registration of licenses, permits and other rights of the Mil and Kamov National Helicopter Center.
Chapter 10. “Validation and certification activities” completes this disaster.
It should be reminded that the Mil and Kamov design bureaus, as designers of civil helicopters, have the designer's certificates. Civil versions of helicopters also have type certificates, which are also held by these design offices, each with its own brand.
The Federal Aviation Regulations “Certification of Aircraft Equipment, Designers' Organizations and Manufacturers. Part 21” approved by order № 184 of 17.06.2019 by the Ministry of Transport will go into effect soon in Russia.
According to these regulations, the designer’s certificate is not transferable. In other words, in the case of termination of Kamov its certificate must be revoked and cannot be transferred to anyone. Therefore, its simple “reissue’ will not work.
The item 10.2. “Organization of works on reissue of designer's certificate of the Mil and Kamov National Helicopter Centre with introduction of the product range of the Mil and Kamov National Helicopter Center ” refers to actual inactivation of the designer's certificates of the schools of Mil and Kamov. And without these certificates no design school can exist legally and physically. That is, the board of the holding is clearly dissembling, when speaking about the retaining of design schools.
Further, according to item 10.3. “Notification of foreign aviation administrations, in which civil helicopter equipment developed by Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant and Kamov JSC is validated, about the change of the holder of type certificates on the Mil and Kamov National Helicopter Center , all aviation administrations of the countries will be informed about the termination of activity of two world famous Russian design bureaus. Where is the promised retaining here?
In accordance with the above mentioned Federal Aviation Regulations, type certificates might be transferred to a legal successor. All old type certificates will be revoked. This will be “pleasant” news for the entire aviation community.
It is not quite clear what time it takes to reissue the type certificates, because in order to reissue them to a new organization, this organization is to have a certificate of designer in accordance with federal aviation rules. And it also takes time. Is it possible that all this time there will be officially neither designer nor holder of type certificates of civil versions of Mi and Ka helicopters? And this situation might result in the suspension of operation of civil Mil and Kamov helicopters around the world.
It might be a “triumph of reason” of some kind over the sense in the unequal competition with heavyweights of helicopter capitalism. We might get confused in the bureaucratic intricacies of norms and rules of civil aviation and give up the markets with our own hands.
There might be another move in this situation that our Ukrainian colleagues have made recently in relation to Mi helicopters, and we, for our part, in relation to An-124 aircraft. Aviation authorities of the states of registration according to ICAO standards can appoint a competent organization in their country or region responsible for maintaining the airworthiness of helicopters. By the way, the Americans have recently done the same thing, recognizing their Ukrainian colleagues as legitimate to replace the “caught up in reorganization” Russian designer of the Mi brand in the countries under the influence of the United States. As long as those characters from the holding company are engaged in the reorganization, the National Helicopter Building Center will no longer be needed.
It is noteworthy that even for this action, according to the item 2.1.2 “Conclusion of an agreement with a consultant”, a certain sum (and probably a big one) will be taken out, because the controlling company itself is apparently unable to manage such a process.
Incidentally, as it follows from p.7 of “Presentations...”, after twelve years of industry management, only 94 experts with unique skills were left in both design bureaus. And in general, there are 386 people with such skills. At the same time, the number of the completely useless stuff of the control structure of Russian Helicopters is more than 500 people.
Helicopter sсhwonders’ verbiage
Aviation Explorer's information resource quotes Andrei Boginsky, chairman of the “helicopter сommittee” as saying: “This solution meets the realities of the time when companies become more compact and efficient. The problem of excessive facilities is very acute.”
That is, this “public figure”, who, according to rumors, in the near future will be put in charge of the Federal Air Transport Agency (also known as Rosaviatsiya) instead of Alexander Neradko, clearly states that the main problem in the Russian helicopter industry is overabundant facilities. As they say, no comments. It is highly possible that after this “young aviation talent” takes charge of Rosaviatsiya, the process of reduction will also be launched there due to an obvious “overabundance”. Today, it is difficult to see how this will affect aviation security.
The same publication also contains the opinion of Sergey Romanenko, executive director of the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant: “The merging of two scientific and design bureaus under the National Helicopter Center will allow to develop healthy internal competition while maintaining the variability of design solutions of merged schools of Mil and Kamov...” However, the former executive and military representative of the Mil design bureau has to know that two projects have been traditionally proposed for the Russian Ministry of Defense: one from Mil, the other from Kamov. And the military always had a choice.
Obviously, if two bureaus merge into a single legal entity, the choice will be lost and the military defense will be offered “what they have”. The persuasion of “helicopter schwonders” about “internal competition” is slyness or autosuggestion as a psychological defense in shocking conditions. When the “internal competition” results in a choice, this choice is likely to be made to the military. Then the competition ends.
Western countries clearly understand this. After merging of some of the helicopter-building capacities under Boeing, there is a separate Sikorsky in the USA. Against the backdrop of merging of several companies in Airbus Helicopters, there is also the Leonardo holding in Europe. The process of competition is ensured. Have we understood this? Or have the questions of the country's defense taken a back seat in relation to optimization of administrative staff, simplification of procurement procedures and the reduction of space?
In support of their actions, the initiators of the reduction, on p.9 of “Presentation...” make an example of international practices of merging helicopter companies, but not completely. Representatives of the Russian “helicopter committee” have forgotten for some reason about the largest helicopter company Sikorsky. It is no coincidence. A full analysis of global integration processes actually disputes the logic of what is currently happening in Russia.
In addition, the decision to merge Mil and Kamov into a single legal entity is not just a question of amalgamation of two economic entities. It is a matter of merger of the two design bureaus in the first place. The examples of Boeing and Airbas Helicopters are absolutely inappropriate here, there was no such a problem.
By the way, what is Sergey Mikheev, Hero of the Russian Federation, thinking of this association? For some reason, his opinion is unreported.
On p. 16 of “Presentation...” it is noted that the load-line of the Mil design bureau is 105 percent, the load-line of Kamov is 103 percent. As a result of the reform of both design offices, the load lines will be reduced to 88 percent and 76.27 percent respectively, while with the help of released 35.73 percent (as mentioned in the same document) innovative helicopter equipment and research and technological groundwork will undoubtedly appear. At the same time, according to p. 17, the whole development of design documentation will be outsourced to some outside agencies. Who is responsible for the design of future helicopters in the “Presentation ...” in this situation is not specified.
It is also not quite clear why under the conditions of the planned merger of design departments, Russian Helicopters with its innovative design bureau VR-Technologies has to remain a separate entity. Or a separate design bureau at Kazan Helicopters within the framework of a single holding company? Wouldn't it be more correct and logical to gather all designers under one roof? This fact confirms again the opinion that the purpose of “helicopter schwonders” is to destroy the design potential of two leading design bureaus. Again, the question arises, who benefits from this? It would be too reckless to write such things off as muddles and illiteracy of the current executives.
As we know, there was a senior government official in the book of Mikhail Bulgakov who stopped Schwonder. It seems that there is no stopping the “helicopter schwonders” in modern Russia...