Russian aviation looking to cash in on Farnborough

Russian aircraft maker Sukhoi plans to sign deals for 30 of its new regional passenger jets at the Farnborough International Airshow in Britain this week. Farnborough is a key date on the aviation industry's calendar, an

“The world’s largest showcase of aerospace technology” is how Sukhoi shareholder Finmeccanica describes Farnborough.

Russia will be a central player at the 2008 event. Announcements on Russia are expected this week from, Sukhoi Superjet, MiG-29, production in Russia of AgustaWestland helicopters, purchases of Tupolev-204, as well as  A320 passenger to cargo plane conversions by Irkut.

A key question’s whether the new Superjet client will be another state-owned Russian operator, or a respected Western airline. Charles Alcock, Editor of International Show Editions, AIN says,

What will reinforce my confidence in the S100’s reputation is a Western buyer. If that happens, that’s a vindication of what Sukhoi say they can achieve.

On the military side, key client India will get a delivery date for its 4 MiG-29Ks. Experts say the event will mark a quantum shift in Russia’s relationship with foreign buyers.

Jon Lake, Defence Editor of Flight Daily News says,

We’re expecting them to announce a delivery date, probably on tuesday.  The significance of that deal, really, apart from the first sale of the new generation of Mig 29, of this new unified aircraft family, the significance is that it’s the first time that Mig have sold a complete service package.

Some aircraft makers are eyeing the Russian market as potential islands of stability and even growth, just as European and American rivals suffer downturns. Russia wants to export $6.1 bln of weapons this year, that’s some 16% of the world market. Their second task here is to prove they can transfer that know-how to passenger planes. This week we should get a better idea whether projects like the Superjet are taken seriously by the West.