Russian industry reaches for sales at Farnborough Airshow

The Farnborough International Airshow, in the UK, opens this week with Russian aircraft makers, parts suppliers, and systems designers looking to impress new customers.

Aeroplanes of all shapes and sizes are taking to the skies over the south of England this week, as Farnborough International Airshow brings technology to life.

Russia’s biggest aviation industry players are represented at Farnborough. Not just Aeroflot and Sukhoi, with its Superjet, but also titanium maker VSMPO-Avisma, Rostechnologii, the Russian defence supercorporation, defence import and export company Rosoboronexport, and Russian Helicopters.

It was a successful beginning to the show for Russian Helicopters, which sold 4 machines to an Indian company – Igor Pshenichny, First Deputy Executive Director for Marketing and Sales, Russian Helicopters says it’s a new direction.

“As to the commercial market for us it’s a practically new market. We have several commercial helicopter operators there, buts it’s not a big quantity for such a big and huge economically developing country as India. So we are putting additional emphasis on this market now.”

Among the Russia-related deals signed here so far, Aeroflot has placed an order for 11 Airbus planes, for around $1 billion. And Sukhoi will supply 30 of its Superjets to an Indonesian airline, in a deal worth just under a billion dollars.

But the name on everyone’s lips this year is Boeing. Undoubtedly the star of this year’s show is the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, on British soil for the first time. Hailed as the first in a new generation of airliners, its chassis and wings are made of Russian titanium supplied from VSMPO-Avisma.

The 787 is made of composite material and capable of travelling huge distances. With this model still equipped for test flights, Boeing is confident it can make the first deliveries by the end of the year. Following a tour of the brand new plane, Rostechnologii’s Director General, Sergey Chemezov, explained Russia’s involvement.

“In the last few years, we’ve signed a lot of contracts – most of which were for titanium products, and newly built titanium alloy. The plane that you and I just saw consists of about 20 tonnes of titanium products, all of which were made in Russia.”

Boeing claims planes for the next 80 years will be modelled on the Dreamliner, and they’re hoping to drum up new custom for the plane during the course of this week.

Last year’s Paris airshow was disastrous in terms of orders, as the aerospace industry took a beating during the financial crisis. This year could be different, according to Sergey Kravchenko, President of Boeing Russia.

“I think there is some signs, you know, that the market is coming back. Definitely, you know, airlines began to show way more interest for the new aeroplanes, you know, definitely financing is not so big problem like 18 months ago.”

Farnborough is traditionally a litmus test for the state of the global aviation industry, and the world’s biggest defence and aircraft manufacturers will hope for evidence of it taking off.