Civil aviation is the future for Irkut

Aircraft maker Irkut is in talks with Air France and Lufthansa over its MS-21 passenger plane. The company claims it will have a 15% lower operational costs than Airbus’ best-selling A320. Irkut President Oleg Demchenko told Business Today it will use thi

OLEG DEMCHENKO, PRESIDENT, IRKUT: By 2014 60% of our production will be civilian, not military.  Currently 99% of our revenue comes from weapons, we have a contract to deliver Su-30 fighters to our biggest client India to 2014. 12 sent and 6 still to go to Malaysia, 16 fighters being sent to Algeria, negotiations with other countries.

RT: Will the government keep import tariffs on foreign planes high to support the development of the MS-21?

OD: You have to restrain the entry of foreign jets on the Russian market, but you can’t artificially support the industry. We need to be pragmatic, patriotism won’t get us anywhere. I’d like Russia to make everything itself but technologically we’re too far behind. Ideally my company would like to unite with an international manufacturing leader, as Superjet’s done with Snecma. The price of fuel’s going up, kerosene’s already $1,300 per ton, and I think that trend will continue. We can’t wait to 2020, because by then we’ll have lost all our experts to Boeing.

RT: You mentioned $6 bln total investment for development of the MS-21, do you think that’s enough?

OD: At the moment, that’s enough. When we’ve finished the tenders and decided which partners will share risk and which will just be subcontractors, we’ll have a proper business plan. 50 companies have already submitted proposals to us for the plane they’d like to see in 2015, including Aeroflot, Air France and Lufthansa.