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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Big Turnout and Big Bucks at Air Show

ZHUKOVSKY, Moscow region -- The Moscow Air Show wrapped up Sunday with well over a half billion dollars in pledges for aircraft, engines and other parts, a feat that analysts said should give the Russian aviation sector a welcome boost.

A record 525 companies and some 800,000 visitors attended the weeklong show in Zhukovsky, about 30 kilometers southeast of Moscow, organizers said.

The biennial exhibition, which President Vladimir Putin opened Tuesday, showcased about 130 mostly Russian-made aircraft and other hardware in a clear attempt to squash any doubt that Russian aviation remains a force to be reckoned with on the international marketplace.

Yury Koptev, head of the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, stressed before the air show that its success should not be measured by the number of contracts but by the number of contacts made.

Click here to see more pictures from the 2001 Moscow Air Show.
Either way, organizers and some participants are walking away pleased.

Among the highlights:

•The Ilyushin Finance leasing company signed a protocol agreement to deliver four Il-96-400 cargo planes to Aeroflot in two years and four planes to Atlant-Soyuz. The two deals are worth about $320 million.

•The Volga-Dnepr heavy cargo airline signed a tentative agreement with the Perm Motors engine producer for five PS-90A engines to fit one of its Il-76 cargo planes. The list price for an engine is $2.5 million.

•Kamov, designer of civil and military helicopters, secured from Gazprom options for 50 KA-226 helicopters, which would be used to monitor gas pipelines. The helicopter carries a list price of $1.5 million.

•Egyptian Sirocco Aerospace International, a Cairo-based leasing company, announced it would order seven Tu-204-120 passenger jets to add to its existing stable of four. The planes, which have a price tag of $32 million each, are to be powered with Rolls Royce engines and delivered this year and next.

•The Irkutsk-built Be-200, an amphibious transport jet that can be used for emergencies and firefighting, won certification from CIS civil aviation authorities. Aviation experts estimate that worldwide demand for the $15 million Be-200 will run into the hundreds. The Emergency Situations Ministry is looking to purchase seven of the planes by 2005.

•French engine maker Snecma signed a memorandum of understanding with NPO Saturn, a Russian engine manufacturer, to develop engines for a new regional jet that will be built by Sukhoi and Ilyushin in cooperation with Boeing Co. of the United States. Aeroflot announced last Monday, the day before the show opened, that it had clinched a tentative deal to buy up to 30 of the aircraft. Feasibility studies are being carried out on the aircraft, which will seat 50 to 95 passengers, and deliveries are to start in 2006.

•Main arms exporter agency Ros-oboronexport proudly showed off a South African air force Mirage F1 plane modernized by Russian producers. The plane is fitted with a Russian RD-33 engine and air-to-air P-73 missiles.

Alexander Sarkisov, general director of the Klimov design bureau, which produced the engines, said this was the first foreign-built fighter to be powered by a Russian engine.

Rosoboronexport also announced that it had revenues of $2.8 billion in the first seven months of the year, about 87 percent of its annual target.

Meanwhile, many companies echoed Koptev in saying that cutting deals was not the top priority. Gregor Kursell, spokesman for Airbus maker EADS, said no agreements were signed during the show, even though his company had the largest exhibit of all foreign firms.

"Concrete negotiations with Russian companies will start in September after the summer break," Kursell said. At Zhukovsky, EADS just wanted to show "that Russia is important for us," he said.

Last month, EADS unveiled a $2 billion partnership agreement with Rosaviakosmos under which Russian aerospace producers will participate in EADS projects such as the building of the A-380 jumbo jet.

For their part, Russian civil aircraft makers, which sold only four jets last year, rolled out older Tu-134 and Tu-154 workhorse passenger jets next to newer Il-96 and Tu-204 planes on the tarmac.

Some buyers, however, expressed caution about snapping up the new planes. Andrei Martirosov, head of the Tyumenaviatrans airline, said he would only consider the Tu-204 when mass production starts.

"You may end up buying an obscure aircraft," he said.

Regarding the air show, he said, "It's not a fair where you come, see and buy something. It's more for networking."

Most domestic airlines were not at the air show to buy aircraft anyway because few have the cash. They are waiting for the government to announce the winner of a tender for a jet-leasing company, which would make the purchase of new aircraft affordable. The government is expected to pick a company this week.

Military heavyweights at the show warned in advance that no contracts would be signed. "Sukhoi does not have a practice of signing contracts at air shows," said Mikhail Pogosyan, head of AVPK Sukhoi.

Nikolai Nikitin, head of MiG Russian Aircraft-Building Corp., would only say that the company carried out talks with EADS. MiG is ironing out a modernization program of the MiG-29 for Europe under the auspices of MiG Aircraft Product Support GmbH and pushing EADS for assistance in certifying the 100-seater Tu-334.

MiG and Sukhoi also put their best foot forward for the Russian air force, which wants to order a fifth-generation fighter. Air Force commander Anatoly Kornukov has repeatedly indicated that he favors Sukhoi. A government tender will decide the winner.

According to Kornukov, a prototype of the new fighter will first fly in 2006 and be available for delivery to the air force in 2010. Koptev has said that it will take up to $1.5 billion to develop the plane and another $600 million to $800 million to develop the engine.

Paul Duffy, an independent aviation analyst based in Moscow, said the show gave the air industry a push forward.

"The show was more successful [than in 1999] and the fact that there were more companies like Boeing, EADS and Embraer gave it an international flavor," he said.