Russia invites China develop competitor to Boeing and Airbus


BEIJING, September 23 (RIA Novosti, Alexei Yefimov) -- Russia has invited China to help develop and manufacture a new passenger plane, aimed to compete with Boeing and Airbus, senior officials from the country's leading aircraft makers said Friday.

Vladimir Belyakov, deputy general director of Ilyushin, said the firm, together with two other top Russian producers, Yakovlev and Tupolev, was working on the low-cost, fuel efficient MS-21 passenger plane.

The MS-21 project was presented at the Beijing Aviation Expo 2005.

"We would like to make it an international project and develop the plane with the help of other companies, including foreign firms," said Arkady Gurtovoy, deputy general director of the Tupolev design bureau. Russian manufacturers have offered 30%-50% participation in the project to China Aviation Industry Corporation II, he added.

Andrey Matveyev, general designer of the Yakovlev bureau, said the project aimed to create a family of short-range and medium-range passenger planes similar to Airbus A319/A320 and Boeing 737.

According to Matveyev, "a sketch design of the MS-21 should be finished by the middle of 2006." The certification is planned for 2011, and the plane will become operational in 2012.

The MS-21 plane will have three versions, for 132, 150 and 168 passengers, with the flight range of up to 4,000 miles, Matveyev said, adding that the current demand for such aircraft in China was more than 400 planes and in Russia - 800 planes. The global demand could reach 10,000 planes in the next 10-15 years.

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