The scandal surrounding the attempt to replace the head of the Antonov state enterprise has raised numerous questions about the legal aspects of personnel decisions, the efficiency of the manufacturer’s operations, and its prospects in world markets. Dmytro Kiva claims that the Ministry of Industrial Policy, no longer has the authority to dismiss him and appoint managers of industrial facilities because the ministry is in the process of abolition. In addition, he has not received official notification of his dismissal. His opponent, Serhii Merenkov, insists that his appointment is legal, that the Ministry of Industrial Policy has the right to continue full operation – including the right to rotate the managements of enterprises – because the process of transfer of files from the Ministry of Industrial Policy to the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade has not yet been completed. Kiva and Merenkov both express their opinions on what is happening in exclusive interviews with the CFTS portal.

Do you consider the order on replacement of the Antonov state enterprise’s leadership legitimate or illegitimate?

Dmytro Kiva: The order of the Ministry of Industrial Policy, which is being liquidated, on my dismissal from the post of president/general designer of the Antonov state enterprise and the ministry’s order on appointment of Serhii Merenkov to this post (in an acting capacity) are completely illegal. The active regulations approved by the government stipulate that abolition of a ministry and transfer of its functions and powers to another ministry should take one month. In this case, the one-month period for abolition of the Ministry of Industrial Policy began on 23 March 2014 and, accordingly, ended on 23 April 2014. It does not matter whether the process of transfer of Antonov’s file to the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade was delayed, as Oleksandr Kalenkov claims, or not. The Ministry of Industrial Policy that was being abolished had no right to issue orders on replacement of the leadership of an enterprise that was no longer under its control. During its liquidation, the ministry has the right to issue orders associated exclusively with the liquidation process. Moreover, in addition to an order from a ministry, dismissal of the head a strategic enterprise requires the consent of the Kiev city administration, but the city administration opposes such a decision.

The Ministry of Industrial Policy claims that it still has the right to influence a change of management at the enterprise, but I received official permission from the Ukrainian Ministry of Economic Development and Trade to travel to Poland on a business trip as the head of Antonov at the beginning of August 2014. In addition, there is a formal procedure for replacing the leadership of an enterprise. Under this procedure, the head of the enterprise first receives official notification of his dismissal and a date is set for a new management to assume force. I have not received any order or other official documents outlining the justification for my dismissal or information about whom files should be transferred. Please, pay attention to the fact that Antonov is a closed enterprise, and nobody should get there just like that without prior permission.

Serhii Merenkov: I am surprised by this question. The Ministry of Industrial Policy of Ukraine, which has direct control over Antonov, has not been abolished. Rather, it is in the process of merging with the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade. This merger is far from completion, and the Ministry of Industrial Policy has the full legal rights to replace the managements of Antonov and other enterprises under its control.

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine sent instructions on replacement of Antonov’s leadership specifically to the Ministry of Industrial Policy, without doubting the legitimacy of the latter. The orders on dismissal of the head of Antonov and appointment of the new head were issued specifically in accordance with these instructions.

Therefore, the more appropriate question is this: can the head of a state-owned enterprise ignore an order on his dismissal issued by an organ of direct state management? Can he, together with several of his accomplices, involve employees of the enterprise in this act of direct disobedience for nearly three months by exciting them with his false statements? How legitimate are these actions? Civilized people resolve such disputes exclusively in court.

What are your plans for development of the enterprise?

Kiva: Speaking of the state of the modern aircraft manufacturing industry, we have good results in the area of development of aviation technology. A number of projects are developing rapidly, and we are constantly updating our technology. In the past few years, Antonov has expended a lot of efforts and resources on establishing the operation of the Serial Production Plant, which has been merged with our enterprise. Of course, we have had some success, but the plant is far from operating at full capacity. Therefore, we are currently working to improve the situation.

Merenkov: I will speak briefly, and not so much about Antonov as about the entire industry:

- to create a normal system of operational support that is similar to the one accepted throughout the civilized world, with management of the lifecycle of aircraft;

- to modernize the An-124, An-74, and An-140 planes;

- to increase the pace of production to 50-60 aircraft per year for the main models - the An-148, An-158, An-140, and An-74 planes. That is, to increase it by "an order of magnitude;"

- to establish a regional airline with a fleet of An-148 and An-140 planes for transportation primarily within Ukraine;

- to review the promising model range, as well as to create and launch serial production of cargo (military transport) planes to replace the An-26, An-32, and An-12 planes;

- to create and launch serial production of military aircraft - patrol and reconnaissance systems based on the An-140 and An-74 planes.

How effective is the current sales and technical support system for aircraft manufactured by Antonov?

Kiva: We are currently creating for Antonov aircraft a fully-fledged sales and technical support system that meets the requirements of the market. We are using the most sophisticated and advanced methods and technologies adopted in the world as the benchmark.

We are creating a system of after-sales support jointly with our partners. Thanks to this this system, we provide a full range of services to the operator and we prepare flight and technical personnel and periodically improve their skills. We promptly resolve all the issues that arise during operation of aircraft, and we perform maintenance and repair of aircraft. We also supply spare parts for aircraft and repair them. In addition, we update operating documentation with the help of web resources.

Today, this system ensures successful operation of An-148 aircraft by airlines in the Russian Federation and Ukraine, as well as An-158 aircraft in the Republic of Cuba. Moreover, I want to tell you that we have achieved good operating results: the average flying time per aircraft is 2,500-3,500 hours, and the serviceability coefficient of the fleet is more 0.96-947.

Merenkov: A sales system in the normal sense of the word does not exist: 12 aircraft have been delivered in over five years. The order for six An-32 planes came from Ukrspetsexport and the order for one An-148 and five An-158 planes came from the Russian-based Ilyushin Finance Co. There are no domestic orders.

The technical support system for aircraft of the “An” family can be considered civilized only in relation to the An-148 planes operating in Russia, the An-158 planes operating in Cuba, and the An-26 planes operating in the European Union.

Do you think there is an opportunity to re-launch serial production of the An-124 aircraft? What is required for this?

Kiva: This aircraft remains the unsurpassed leader on the global market of transportation of bulky and non-standard cargo. The An-124 practically has no competitors, and there are demand and customers for the aircraft. We are ready to resume production: a new version of the "Ruslan" has been developed, and the Serial Production Plant, where the essential equipment is preserved, is also ready. We need partners to implement this project, and we are currently looking for partners.

Merenkov: This is a very difficult question, especially now, because the only institution that had a plan – and perhaps still has a plan – to resume serial production of the An-124 plane is the Russian Defense Ministry.

Of course, commercial airlines are interested in such a project, but such projects are "moved" at the government level and not by a single firm or even several firms.

If one does not consider Russia, the only potential partner remains the United States: there are very interesting prospects there, beginning with the so-called technical face of the aircraft, but it is necessary to do a great deal to ensure that such a project can begin.

What are the prospects for the An-70 program in the context of deteriorating relations with Russia?

Kiva: Russia’s interest in the Ukrainian-Russian An-70 project cooled even before the conflict of 2014. The Russians delayed the implementation of the joint program. Among other things, it ignored the tests of the An-70 prototype that are necessary for the aircraft to progress toward mass production. However, we completed the joint state tests of the An-70 in April. Based on the results of these tests, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense signed an act recommending adoption of the aircraft into service and launch of its mass production. The final phase of the tests took place without the participation of the Russian side, which did not officially inform us that it was withdrawing from the project or canceling its order.

Despite its difficult fate, the An-70 airplane is superior to many similar airplanes in a number of areas. We are looking for new customers for the An-70 military transport aircraft in different countries, new investors, and new business partners - Western and others – that are capable of producing and supplying us with various components for the An-70, for the production of which we are ready.

Merenkov: All the materials and more than 90% of the components in the An-70 airplane are Russian. In accordance with the intergovernmental agreements that were signed, the rights to the project are divided 50:50. That is the answer to your question.

Of course, nobody has abolished import substitution, but there are many legal issues. Not the least is the fact that the program has been delayed, to put it mildly. The 30th anniversary of the resolution No. 797-173 of the CPSU Central Committee and the USSR Council of Ministers dated 23 July 1984, which launched the creation of the An-70 airplane, passed recently. The flight of the first prototype took place almost 20 years ago - in December 1994. In the past nine years, the only An-70 existing in the world - which is the second prototype that was built in 1997 by Petro Balabuev - has spent five years on the ground and two years under modernization.

What is the state of the cooperation with the Aviakor plant on the An-140?

Kiva: Aviakor continues serial production of An-140 aircraft. Over the past year, we have jointly performed a detailed examination of several areas for further improvement of both the aircraft and our relationship. However, the implementation of the relevant plans have stalled in recent months.

Merenkov: None. Antonov’s management never intended to go beyond protocols and "camera flashes" in this project. Aviakor’s management is now seriously considering launching production of the IL-114 plane, production of which has ceased at TAPOiCH in Tashkent, at its facilities because it has noticed this attitude. This is what will happen if the attitude does not change.

However, why go as far as the Volga when there is a river that is closer – the Lopan in Kharkov, where the KSAMC has not produced a single An-140 plane for the past nine years. The plane - on the creation of which the Kiev-based Antonov, OJSC Elektronprilad, SRI Buran, UkrNII RA, KTSKBA, and OJSC UkrAnalit, the Kharkov-based KSAMC, KhPKB Aviakontrol, KhAKB, and Communar, the Zaporozhye-based ZMKB Ivchenko-Progress, and OJSC Motor Sich, the Smelyansk-based Orizont, the Odessa-based ONII TT, and many other teams worked - has found itself without support from its own design bureau/developer in our country.

The 35-40-year-old Yak-40 and An-24 planes, which the An-140 plane can easily replace, continue to transport our citizens.

Is installation of alternative engines on the first An-178 prototype possible because Motor Sich is unable to provide an upgraded version of its engines on time?

Kiva: Yes, it is possible. Antonov is also considering other firms to equip the An-178. Such Western companies include Pratt & Whitney and Rolls Royce. In addition, Western aircraft engines have European certificates, and the Zaporozhe-made engines have only IAC certificates, which cover CIS countries. However, we believe that we will equip the An-178 with locally manufactured engines together with our colleagues in Zaporozhe and find an acceptable technical solution for installation and certification of aircraft, including by the EASA.

In any case, we are trying to find the optimum way to equip this aircraft with engines and perform the necessary flight tests.

Merenkov: It is possible. A lot is possible on the first prototype. For example, pilots had ejection seats on the first prototype of the Tu-144 plane.

However, orders are needed for the first prototype to be followed by the next one and for serial production to begin. There are no orders, and the Farnborough air show that took place last month only reconfirmed this.