MOSCOW, November 23 (RIA Novosti) - Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev called on the government on Friday to pay special attention to the development of civil aviation in Russia and get moving on the issue of optimizing aircraft production.
Speaking at a goverment meeting, Medvedev said Russian airlines need to take delivery on around 1,300 aircraft in the period to 2020 and that obsolescence is an increasing problem. The average age of Russia's civil aircraft is 17 years, he added.
"On the world aviation market, Russia as a whole is not in a bad position, partly because of what we've done in the last few years," he said. "We are in the top three, but that's not a God-given placing and we need to get stronger, and of course we should get civil aviation technology moving," he said.
Russia must establish the scientific and technical capacity for production of new aircraft models and strengthen its human resource base in the sector, he said.
"We need to optimize our product range. We need to gauge for ourselves where we can keep a leading position, and where it will be difficult for us to keep up with those models already developed," he said.
Russia must strictly stick to fulfilment of its state defense order, he insisted.
"In all, the state program plans production of 3,300 airplanes and 5,500 helicopters for civilian and military aviation, and also 33,000 aircraft-engines," he said.
Medvedev reminded the government of the rapid growth of aviation services worldwide. "By 2025, according to expert estimates, it could reach 24 trillion rubles ($775 billion)," he said.
Last year alone the business was worth around 7 trillion rubles, he said. "So the main aim of our program is to increase our potential, and fill our fleet with competitive Russian aircraft," he said.
In August, Medvedev called on industry and government to develop a new small regional transport aircraft, either alone or with foreign partners.
"We need to think about creating a regional aircraft in Russia, either by ourselves - which in my view is unlikely, though if you surprised me, I'd be glad to hear it - or with a world-class foreign manufacturer," he said at a meeting with aviation industry representatives and the Trade and Industry Ministry to discuss revival of local air transport services.
Civil aerospace production in Russia has plunged in the 22 years since the end of the USSR. Only one completely new design, the Sukhoi SSJ-100 regional airliner, is in series production. Another, the Irkut MS-21, is due to enter production in 2016, Irkut says.