They convert at Minsk aircraft repair plant Russian military aircrafts into top airliners designed for VIP-persons. The unusual conveyor has produced two aircrafts.
Instead of red stars on wings and air camouflage stains they paint aircrafts in bright colours sparkling in the sunshine. Instead of ascetic army compartment they upholstered the chairs in maize yellow colour leather and the furniture in red wood, installed DVD and other attributes of comfort. Is it a costly experiment? Not at all. Minsk was the first city of CIS capitals to convert soviet aircrafts into jets with advanced comfort. If I have not seen it with my own eyes I would never believe in it.
Speaking automobile language the main advantage of the aircraft is its aviatuning that is more sophisticated and expensive. Firstly Tu-134 are delivered to airport Minsk-1 from Russian regions. These aircrafts are operational trainers or navigational aircrafts. They were produced in Soviet Union times and their time in commission is over 20 years. But in comparison with “draught-horses” of passenger transportation Tu-134А and Tu-134B they have not so many flying hours but their wear and tear is fair. For this reason Russian air companies so eagerly buy them for further upgrading. But this word is not suitable for metamorphoses that are made with military “hawks” at aircraft repair plant in Belarusian capital.
There are four Tu-134 in a big hangar. The aircrafts are dismantled and have no illuminators, no doors, no electronics and no what is known compartments. There are only frames with balls of wire onto which engineers are to construct a crucially new shell.
— It is a very toilsome and extremely time-consuming work. Look yourself — one has to modify the fore end of fuselage, install additional illuminators and emergency exits, to entirely replace electronic equipment and put additional fuel tanks…Say nothing of washing, painting, riveting, ground tests and checkflight carrying out. Nine technological stages, 1800 specialists, 100 percent hand assembling in half a year and great responsibility. It can not be denied that each aircraft represents a small act of engineering bravery, — shows air dockyard Uriy Bondarev, the production manager of Minsk aircraft repair plant. The board colour — grade and compartment finishing are previously discussed with the customer. These are unique in its own way design works, each unusual in its nature. You would never meet the same work again.
So, what a typical VIP-compartment includes? Instead of familiar 70 seats one has 20–30 seats. And how! They look like well-padded chairs made of leather in which the passenger simply “sinks”. Next to them there are the same couches, carrel of director decorated in red-wood, mini-hall for negotiations. Two dressing rooms. Some bar-rooms. And satellite communication, DVD and system of air show: the monitor shows everything that happens overboard. It is clear that well-off people and companies: Russian commercial air companies, businessmen from Moscow, pop-stars, CIS high officials and oligarchs can afford such a flying office. There was a case when we had to order a rare variety of red— wood directly in Cameroon — the beauty of furnishing needs sacrifice.
Let us say from the start that this is not a thoughtless fashion of noveau riches — it is more a question of real economy and practicability. A new passenger airplane costs 30 million dollars. The upgrading of soviet Tu-134 will cost a customer much less money. The upgraded air liner will serve with good faith and fidelity 10–15 years, because “tushki” have for a long time been recognized as the most reliable air liners in its class. There are other advantages.
— Our plant has long ago stepped over the bounds of an aircraft repair plant in its classic meaning. We not only overhaul and upgrade Yak-40, Tak-42 and Tu-134 of all modifications, but manufacture spare parts. It is a least-evil solution because some of Russian manufacturing companies are closed or ceased their production. We obtained a licenses, approvals and certificates for manufacturing of chassis parts, fuselage parts and parts of dйcor. So we don’t act secretly but substitute import on a high qualitative level. Moreover due to this we can successfully compete with other companies, — says Uriy Chahovskiy, director of Minsk aircraft repair plant. — The near term plans we would like to learn how to maintain, repair and modernize other types of aerotechnics and of course how to conduct upgrading service of military aircrafts. Our capabilities considerably surpass the demand.