Russian planemakers cash in at Farnborough

The Farnborough international air show ended with $47 billion worth of deals with many believing this year's event marked the recovery of the civil aircraft industry.

The severe downturn in the civil aviation industry is over with the $47 billion in deals signed at this year’s UK event, comparing with the paltry $7 billion signed at last years recession hit Paris air show.

The star of the show was Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner – made from composite materials, and the manufacturer claims that planes for the next 80 years will be modelled on this design. Sergey Kravchenko, President of Boeing Russia says he hopes the first customer will receive its first delivery this year.

“This is a test aeroplane number 3. Now we will certify the airplane by the end of the year and we are hopeful that the first customer – Japanese Airline ANA – will get the first dreamliner this year.”

Russian civil aircraft makers had a particularly good airshow, signing major deals in the wake of June’s announcement that in the largest post Soviet era sale of new generation aircraft Irkut will supply Malaysia’s Crecom 50 MS-21 planes.

Sukhoi sold 70 of its Superjet passenger planes in various deals worth a total of about 2.5 billion dollars. On the other side of the equation, Aeroflot ordered 11 Airbus A330 planes reaffirming its commitment to Western Plane makers.

The air show also presented an opportunity for Russian Helicopters to market its wares, selling 4 machines to an Indian company.  Igor Pshenichny, First Deputy Executive Director for Marketing and Sales, at 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.”

New orders at the event didn't come close to the record-breaking 88 billion dollars announced at Farnborough in 2008 before the global recession hit. Still, many believe this show confirms the recovery trend that has been in evidence since the Spring.

But some analysts believe demand is being artificially stimulated. Roman Gusarov, head editor of web site, says Superjets 100 are being sold below cost price, and that the results from Farnborough are being exaggerated.

“I think it is too early to talk about a recovery in Russian civil aviation. We might see it in several years. But for now it is more important to get all the new planes certified and start manufacturing them.”

Still he represents a minority view. The International Air Transport Association predicts the global industry will make a profit of 2.5 billion dollars in 2010. Indeed, hardly a fortune – but better than a loss of 9.4 billion dollars last year.