The Ministry of Industry and Trade has determined the criteria for developers and manufacturers of drones to be included in a unified register, which opens access to subsidies and government orders. The Ministry proposes to include in the register only those who receive at least 40% of revenue from the sale of drones, and those who were able to obtain a certificate for their drones. Market participants believe that the criteria may exclude large companies with diversified businesses. The requirement for certification, the industry believes, will lead to “the dominance of prototypes made from Chinese spare parts,” which will minimize further attempts at import substitution.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade has prepared rules for the formation of a unified register of manufacturers and developers of unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), which should come into force in January 2024.
Getting into the register is important, since register participants will be able to apply for subsidies, tax breaks and participation in government contracts (see Kommersant of June 7). Thus, the national project until 2030 assumes that investments in the development of civilian drones during this period will amount to over 800 billion rubles, including about 700 billion rubles. from the budget.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade offers three criteria – the company must be Russian, have a type certificate for UAS (for developers) and receive at least 40% of the revenue from their production (for manufacturers).
So far, the only certified drone in the Russian Federation remains the BAS-200 of Russian Helicopters. The selective requirement for a type certificate is unreasonable and excessive, says Gleb Babintsev, head of the Aeronext specialized association. In his opinion, it is enough to allow UAS to operate on the basis of an assessment report for a single specimen or a declaration of conformity for agricultural drones. We are talking about checks only according to key criteria that characterize this category of drones, taking into account the specifics of their use, says Denis Baryshnikov, general director of the BAS Consortium (JV Russian Post and Skolkovo Capital).
Now Russian drones are mostly assembled from Chinese components.
Any design change is an expensive and time-consuming re-certification, adds Gleb Babintsev. That is, certification of standard UAS “will only reduce incentives and opportunities for real import substitution.” In addition, now, with the rapid change in technology, it is almost impossible to determine and fix a standard design, since customers are not ready to fully formulate the requirements for application scenarios.
The second requirement for a share of revenue may leave large holdings off the register, in which the production of drones does not account for the main share of revenue. These are, for example, JSC NPP Radar mms, Geoscan, Finco, Transport of the Future (EFKO) or Aeromax (AFK Sistema). In such large companies with billion-dollar turnover, the share of revenue from UAS can be a few percent. Moreover, many enterprises produce equipment for themselves and make money mainly by providing services, adds Gleb Babintsev.
Experts consider another weak point of the registry project to be too narrow a list of what exactly is recognized as UAS and its components. The list did not include, in particular, agrodrone refueling stations, special means of transportation, cargo containers and other elements.
Aeronext plans to discuss the document at a meeting of the public expert council of the national project “Unmanned Aircraft Systems” and submit proposals for its improvement to the authors of the resolution and to the government commission on drones. The Ministry of Industry and Trade told Kommersant that discussion of the project with the industry community continues and “enterprises in the UAS industry can send their position to the Ministry of Industry and Trade.”
Without further development, the creation of such a register could lead to the risk of a significant consolidation of existing strong UAS players and weakening opportunities for the development of young companies and start-ups, notes Alexander Tarakanov, CEO of the Center for Unmanned Technologies: “Small players will either be absorbed by large ones or will not receive development at all.” Commercial Director of the Laboratory of the Future from NTI Aeronet, Pavel Kamnev, adds that for the development of second and third level suppliers, it is possible to introduce the need to meet minimum localization requirements to be included in the register (see Kommersant on June 13), but for this it is necessary first define the criteria. There are always risks of closing some points “for show” and unfair competition, he says, but “this is a question for those who will monitor compliance with the rules.” In general, every point, except for the requirement of the company’s Russian origin, can lead to problems, agrees the head of Kursir, Vitaly Munirov.
On the other hand, market participants agree that the registry should exist to protect government investment in the industry. If the register includes separate structures of large corporations allocated for the production of UAS, there will be no global difficulties with joining the register, says the head of Fly Drone, Nikita Danilov.
The formation of the register is necessary for the implementation of targeted support measures from the state for manufacturers, concludes Geoscan CEO Alexey Yuretsky. For the measures to work, companies need to be identified based on a set of criteria, he adds. It is important to find those indicators that will not leave existing Russian developers and manufacturers “overboard”, but will weed out “integrators” with ready-made foreign solutions. From this point of view, he supports the revenue share criterion, since it confirms that the UAS activity is one of the main ones for the organization. For large multi-industry companies, this indicator may be unattainable, and another one needs to be proposed.
The state primarily focused on including UAS manufacturers whose systems are intended for use in the interests of government consumers on the register, notes Oleg Shilov, general director of Aeromonitoring Master. Manufacturers of components and software are considered secondary, and a register for companies that offer services using UAS has not yet been provided, although services now form the main income of the industry, he adds. But for now, Oleg Shilov considers this approach understandable and expects that conditions will “be adjusted as the market develops.”