MAKS 2007 air show opens to the public

The first three days of MAKS 2007 were reserved for aviation experts and professionals, with delegations coming from all over the world. Several multi-million dollar contracts have been signed. But on Friday the air show in the city of Zhukovsky outside M

The 8th MAKS air show at Zhukovski airfield just outside Moscow is bigger and better than ever. Although primarily a place for specialists and businesses to come to sign deals and make presentations, it’s also a chance for the general public to learn more about what’s hot in the world of aviation.

So you’ve got your ticket and come through the entrance gates, it’s time to decide what to do next and there’s lots to choose from.

Russian Concorde from the 1960s
Russian Concorde from the 1960s

First stop has to be a walk along one of the flight lines to get up close to loads of Russian aircraft, old and new. Like the Russian Concorde from the 1960s, military helicopters and some other models for more minimalist tastes. For example, the lightweight two-seater aircraft  with a price tag of $US 100,000.

If you prefer something more powerful, and sturdy, head inside to test out the newest designs for yourself. The latest model from the Russian firm Sukhoi is the comfortable Super Jet 100. It is designed to carry 95 passengers. The plane is about to be released in 2008.

But it’s not only about the mock-ups. MAKS also gives people of all ages the chance to learn more about the space and aviation industry as a whole. Inside its large exhibition halls visitors can find out about what’s going to be the next big thing in aircraft design, see what’s planned for space exploration and widen their knowledge of existing technology.

The company which seems to profit the most from this air show is the Ilyushin Aviation Complex. It managed to sign contracts with two Russian companies for 96 of its planes.

Another big deal of this show is a contract between the largest Russian carrier Atlas, and American Boeing, for the  delivery of four new 737-model planes. Though this is a small deal by international standards, it could be the first of a kind for Russian aviation. The matter is that Russian air carriers have always preferred to buy used aircraft abroad because of excessively high inner taxes for new foreign planes, which could reach 40% of the price tag. That is why this $US 250 MLN deal is that much more important for Russia by being simply an ice-breaker in this sphere.

Also, Russian aircraft manufacturers have struck a deal at MAKS-2007 to build titanium parts for Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner. The U.S. company says VSMPO Avisma is already one of Boeing’s top sources of titanium which will make a $US 18 BLN titanium procurement over the next decade.

Ruslan Pukhov, a military analyst based in Moscow believes that “as for the international trade show we probably tend to become such a show in the near future but now. That's why the number of contracts for the export of Russian aviation equipment is rather limited. Our commercial aviation was in coma even 3-4 years ago. It started to revive recently with couple of projects like Sukhoi Super Jet 100 and other ones. The situation has become much better. We can definitely say that the glasses are full.”

This year's MAKS 2007 is the biggest Russian air show ever. The Russian aviation industry has really started to expand. Maybe that is the reason for certain drawbacks in its organisation. Participants are complaining of the high prices for exhibit space, which is higher than in Le Bourget, for example. Visitors tell of high prices for food and drinks, but what really makes everybody mad is the way of getting to MAKS which is 40 kilometres from Moscow. Highways are crowded to such an extent, that it takes from five to seven hours just to get to the show. In spite of that, at least 100,000 people are expected on Friday.