MAKS 2007 airshow takes off on Tuesday

Final preparations are underway for MAKS 2007. Russia's largest international airshow starts near Moscow on Tuesday. More than half a million visitors are expected over the five days it lasts.

Competing against France's Le Bourget and Britain's Farnborough, Russia's MAKS airshow is firmly strengthening its place as one of the world's biggest aviation and space shows.

A relative newcomer, it was first held in 1993. MAKS is seen as a link between Western aviation displays and those of Asia and Latin America.

Su-35 fighter
Su-35 fighter

Like any event of this kind, MAKS is held first of all to build up business contacts, an idea quite new for Russia. The first days of MAKS 2007 will be business only, and the air show will open to the general public on August 24. Major deals to be signed are not revealed, though there is information Sukhoi will be speaking to Italian company Alenia and the German company Blue Wings is regarding new Tu-204 passenger planes.

During the Soviet years, such events would be used as propaganda leaving business and trade issues behind the scenes.

The world had little information about the country's potential in the field of military aviation with the shows abroad seeing only civil models.

The first military equipment was showcased in the 1980s at Farnborough and Le Bourget, and it was then when the idea of Russia's own airshow was first voiced.

It became a reality in 1993 being the first chance for Western companies to get to know their Soviet counterparts, and two years later the move began to pay off. The popularity of Russia's exhibition has been growing ever since.

It has more than tripled in size over the years with up to 800 companies from 39 countries taking part.

The Russian Knights aerobatic team
The Russian Knights aerobatic team
“For the first time ever there will be hardly enough room to park all the aircraft. There will be over three hundred of them, all waiting for the show to begin on August 21,” said Dmitry Shulepov, Director General of Aviasalon.

This year's MAKS is set to beat all previous records including the multi-million dollar contracts that are expected to be signed.
 
But the majority of the visitors come to Zhukovsky for a different reason. For the general public the most awaited part of the show lies towards the end when aerobatic teams take to the sky.

Russia's Swifts and Knights will be competing for attention alongside Patrouille de France.

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Sukhoi is going to present its new Su-35 jet, and new military aircraft from the U.S. Air Force, as well as B-52 bomber, will make their first appearances in Russia. Besides, renovated WW2 planes are set to become a real treat for spectators.

Meanwhile, tests currently being carried out on the Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft are due to be completed by December 2008.

That's according to the director of the Central Aero-Hydro-Dynamic Institute where the new airliner is undergoing  ground tests.

First Deputy Prime Minister, Sergey Ivanov, visited the site in the town of Zhukovsky prior to the start of the MAKS-2007 air show.

The Superjet 100 is intended as a mid-range aircraft for regional flights in Russia, the CIS and a number of Western countries.

The project is basically funded by the government.

As for security measures, 2,500 policemen are going to monitor the situation at the airshow.

As Moscow becomes the centre for the world's aviation and space industry for the next few days, some say that MAKS 2007 might mark the beginning of the revival of Russian aeronautics. According to reports, $US 250 BLN are going to be allocated to the aerospace industry in the next two decades and 4,500 new jets, mostly civilian ones, will be produced with that money.