Russia’s civilian aircraft find buyers at Airshow China 2016?

Visitors watch the Britain's Royal Air Force aerobatic display team performing in a formation flying during the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition at Zhuhai Airshow Center in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province of China on November 5, 2016.

Visitors watch the Britain's Royal Air Force aerobatic display team performing in a formation flying during the 11th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition at Zhuhai Airshow Center in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province of China on November 5, 2016.

AFP/East News
Russia’s defence sector did not manage to sell a single piece of military hardware in China. However, the public saw a model of the future joint Russian-Chinese civilian aircraft.

A total of 700 companies from across the world were represented at the Airshow China 2016 international aerospace exhibition in Zhuhai, of which 49 were from Russia. Moscow was only able to clinch deals in the civil aviation sector at the air show, which ended on November 6. No military aircraft were sold.

The Helicopters of Russia company will supply Chinese companies with 21 Ka-32, Mi-171 and Ansat helicopters, which will be exported for the first time.

Some customers bought only one or two samples of a particular model. The Jiangsu Baoli Aviation Equipment company will buy one helicopter of each model in 2017, with the Ansat supplied in its medical version.

A man takes picture of the model of a widebody jet, which is planned to be developed by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) at an air show, the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China, November 2, 2016. Source: ReutersA man takes picture of the model of a widebody jet, which is planned to be developed by Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC) and Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) at an air show, the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition, in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province, China, November 2, 2016. Source: Reuters

The Wuhan Rand Aviation Technology Service company purchased two “medical” Ansat helicopters, two Mi-171s and one Ka-32 with an option of further purchases at the current price, if the aircraft proved their worth.

"One might suspect that Beijing purchased only several samples in order to study them and then start mass-producing them inside the country," said Pavel Bulat, head of the Mechanics and Energy Systems international laboratory under the University of Information Technologies, Mechanics and Optics.

Igor Chechikov, Helicopters of Russia deputy general director, told the TASS news agency that the company plans to sign new contracts next year to supply helicopters to China. He did not specify in which particular models the potential customers may be interested.

In addition to helicopters, Russia signed an agreement for the supply of four Be-200 amphibious aircraft. The aircraft are to be delivered to China in 2018.

A model of the Kamov Ka 52 helicopter at the Rosoboronexport stand at the 2016 International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, Airshow China, in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province. Source: Marina Lystseva/TASS A model of the Kamov Ka 52 helicopter at the Rosoboronexport stand at the 2016 International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, Airshow China, in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province. Source: Marina Lystseva/TASS

Bilateral projects

The first mock-up model of a joint Russian-Chinese wide-body long-range aircraft, which does not yet have a name, was displayed before the public at the airshow.

"Judging by the mockup, the aircraft is being developed from scratch, and it will be an absolutely new design. There were fears that it will simply be a version of the Il-96 model with new wings, but the fears turned out to be unfounded," said Bulat.

Speaking at the Airshow, Denis Manturov, Russia’s Minister of Industry and Trade, said the new aircraft would be assembled in China at the facilities of the Comac company.

"We have finalized the choice of the assembly platform – it will be Shanghai. This is one of the key high-tech investments that we are implementing together with our Chinese colleagues," said Manturov.

Mikoyan Mig 29 fighter jets of the Strizhi [Swifts] aerobatic team and Sukhoi Su 27 fighter jets of the Russkiye Vityazi [Russian knights] aerobatic team perform at the 2016 International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, Airshow China, in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province. Source: Marina Lystseva/TASSMikoyan Mig 29 fighter jets of the Strizhi [Swifts] aerobatic team and Sukhoi Su 27 fighter jets of the Russkiye Vityazi [Russian knights] aerobatic team perform at the 2016 International Aviation & Aerospace Exhibition, Airshow China, in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province. Source: Marina Lystseva/TASS

The joint project to build a wide-body long-haul aircraft was launched in 2014, with the development of the plane estimated to cost between $12 and 20 billion. The aircraft will initially use Rolls Royce or GE engines.

Andrei Boginsky, Russian Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, said three versions of the Russian-Chinese aircraft will be produced.

"Its basic version will carry 280 passengers. In future, two other versions are envisaged, provisionally for 250 and 320 passengers," he said.

The developers hope to build a new aircraft that would be able to compete with Airbus and Boeing and will account for a considerable share of the civil aviation market not only in Russia and China but also abroad.

Bulat said the first aircraft of the series is expected to be ready for display to the public by 2020, with sales expected to begin in 2023-2025.

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