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21 Aug, 2007 02:20

MAKS-2007 air show gathers leading makers and customers

Russia's largest international air show MAKS-2007 is opening outside Moscow today. More than 500,000 people are expected to attend the six-day display to look at the latest innovations in aviation. This year, private jet owners are taking part as well.

Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has traditionally taken part in the opening ceremony.

“During the course of its existence, MAKS has gained much-deserved prestige and holds a firm position among the world’s leading aviation shows. Our scientists, designers and manufacturers present their advanced developments year after year, here in Zhukovsky. Business relationships are strengthened and mutually beneficial contracts are signed. I’m sure that MAKS 2007 will once again introduce Russia’s best scientific and technological achievements to the professional community and the public. It will make a significant contribution to the development of international cooperation,” the President stated.

This year's MAKS is different from the previous ones, because we are not only demonstrating our latest achievements, but also speaking about long term development plans for the aviation industry in our country. The development of aviation and our long term strategy will be represented at many stalls here, those of the united aircraft building corporation and its enterprises and those of our suppliers who are working on this strategy with us.

Mikhail Pogosyan ,
Head of Sukhoi Air Holding


The TIL 2000 is one of the smallest aircraft to take part in MAKS 2007 airshow. Next to the giants of the Russian Air Force it is hardly intimidated, despite its size. With a fresh coat of paint, it is making its first public appearance.

Valery Komarov bought a TIL 2000 instead of a car. A former pilot, he says he sees a new face of Russian aviation. It is individual, affordable, and popular.

“It’s like a good horse, reliable, and fast. I take a flight over my dacha and my neighbours wave to me!” Valery Komarov says.

This year, private jet owners are taking part and for Valery Komarov the best thing about MAKS 2007 is that there is a place for everyone. But rising to the skies takes much red tape. All flights at MAKS 2007 require permission from the Air Traffic Control Centre, and this is where things are hectic. A team of 20 Russian and English-speaking air traffic controllers coordinate dozens of landings and take-offs. Russian ‘Swifts’, ‘Falcons’ and ‘Knights’, the nation's best aerobatic teams, are to challenge the French  Patrouille de France with their death-defying stunts. Keeping an eye on all of these pilots, coming from over 40 countries, isn’t easy. With over 300 aircraft taking part and 500,000 spectators, there is just no room for error.

“This year’s show is just tremendous, we have to coordinate the traffic precisely. So far its been a challenge. And considering the location in the vicinity of Moscow’s major airports, highways and residential areas nearby, safety is most important,” Vladimir Rogov, air traffic control coordinator, says.

But professionals showing off in the sky is not everything. For some a bit closer to Earth, it's a place to sign billion dollar deals. Over 700 international companies have signed up. The ‘Ilyushin’ company is negotiating to sell its new TU-204 to the Iranian government and the German ‘Blue Wings Airways’. ‘Sukhoy’ is finalising a joint venture with Italian ‘Alenia Aeronautica’ and is expected to launch its much talked-about fighter jet, the SU-35. The ‘MIG Corporation is to introduce two of its jets equipped with the latest technology.

The Russian government is planning to spend $US 250 BLN to produce 4,500 aircraft in the next two decades. President Vladimir Putin is expected to turn MAKS-2007 into a politically important event.

The U.S. Air Force is here on a goodwill mission and to show off its B-52 bomber. It’s is too hot at Zhukovsky to feel any Cold War chill, but some old-school pilots like Air Force General Aleksandr Kharchevsky, the choreographer behind Russia’s super jet show to take place during the closing stages of MAKS, says Russia always needs to be prepared.

“If we want to avoid wars, we've got to be strong.  If we are strong, nobody will dare to attack us. We need to pass our techniques on to the next generation,” General Kharchevsky says.