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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Plane Spotters Descend on City

MTClose to half a million visitors are expected at Moscow's seventh Aviation and Space Show, which begins Tuesday.
The Seventh Moscow Aviation and Space Show, MAKS 2005, kicks off Tuesday at the Zhukovsky airfield in the Moscow region, with this year's event boasting a record number of exhibitors.

International names, including Boeing and Airbus, join the ranks of 130 foreign and 500 local companies showcasing their latest technologies at this year's event, which competes with Britain's Farnborough Air Show and the Paris Air Show, organizers say.

Topping the bill for visitors will be Russian and foreign aerobatic teams, including the Russian Knights, who are set to delight the crowds with their hair-raising stunts on Sukhoi-27 fighter jets.

Other stunt teams, including Patrouille de France and Italy's Frecce Tricolori, are also signed up for spots in the daily five-hour flight program.

Another favorite for visitors will be the U.S. Air Force B-1B strategic bomber. The U.S. military's F-16C and F-15E fighter jets will also take to the skies.

The show opens to the public on Friday for its final three days, with organizers expecting around 400,000 aviation buffs to attend this year.

The first three days are for trade visitors only. Around 50,000 business visitors, as well as 2,000 journalists, are expected at this year's event, MAKS director Igor Novikov said last week.

One of the most closely watched deals will be the long-awaited sale of a 10 percent stake in aircraft maker Irkut to EADS, Airbus' parent company. EADS and Irkut have worked together for years, the latter supplying parts for the A-320 family of planes.

"The Irkut-EADS tieup will be the major event at this MAKS," said Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy head of the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a defense think tank.

Of all the new technologies on display, the most exciting new developments will come from defense manufacturers.

MiG will demonstrate the latest version of its MiG-29 fighter jet. The design of the latest OVT version gives the plane advanced steering capability, allowing it to hang in the air like a helicopter.

MiG is pinning its hopes on the MiG-29 OVT in a lucrative upcoming Indian government tender for 126 fighters.

The latest in helicopter designs will also be on display, including the Mi-28N Night Hunter combat helicopter made by Rostvertol and the Mi-38 transport made by Kazan Helicopter Plant.

On the civil side, Sukhoi may announce the planned sale of a minority stake in its Russia Regional Jet project to Italy's aerospace giant Finmeccanica.

The first RRJ is due to make its maiden flight in the first quarter of 2007.

This year, enthusiasts will only be given a peek at the plane's cabin design. They will have to wait until the next MAKS comes around in two years to see the first of the RRJ planes.

With Boeing a consultant on the program, the RRJ carries with it much of the hope of Russian aviation industry.

So far, the RRJ has not received a single firm order, in contrast to Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner, which hits the market at the same time and already has orders for 250 planes on its books.

The lack of orders for any of the RRJ family highlights the lack of demand for domestic passenger planes. Russia's more traditional makers of passenger planes, Ilyushin and Tupolev, are losing ground to foreign manufacturers, experts say.

Russian airlines currently operate as many as 65 Boeing and 23 Airbus jets.

The success of foreign manufacturers comes in spite of import duties aimed at protecting local companies, which can increase the price of a foreign-produced plane by up to 40 percent.

The issue of tariffs in aviation has been attracting a lot of attention of late.

Last Monday, Industry and Energy Minister Viktor Khristenko said that the government was considering lowering import duties in a bid to boost cooperation with the foreign aerospace industry.

"The Russian aviation industry cannot develop without deepening cooperation with foreign industry, becoming not just a small supplier but a partner on a risk-sharing basis," Khristenko said.

MAKS-2005 runs Tue. to Sun. from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Zhukovsky Airfield. Flight programs run daily from noon till 5 p.m.

By public transport, Zhukovsky is best reached by taking the train from Kazansky Station, then changing to shuttle buses at the Otdykh and 42nd Kilometer stops.

Tickets can be bought in advance at www.parter.ru or www.kontramarka.ru.

Entrance is 1200 rubles Tue. to Thurs. and 300 rubles from Fri. to Sun. Children under 14, who can only attend the show with an adult, pay 50 rubles for entry.