Medvedev criticises competitiveness of Russian civil aircraft

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Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has criticised the country's commercial aircraft industry for its poor production output and its competitive capabilities.

Medvedev, speaking at a Russian Security Council meeting, described the production of just seven civil aircraft last year as "a very sad figure".

The average age of mainline aircraft in Russia is 17 years, and up to 30 years in the regional sector, he said. But the domestic industry turned out only four Antonov An-148s and three Tupolev Tu-204 and Tu-214 twinjets in 2010.

Medvedev stated that the country's airlines ought to purchase domestically-built aircraft but, he pointed out, "not just any machine".

In terms of price against quality of production, he said, the aviation industry "must actually compete with foreign companies".

"Russian aircraft must not lose to foreign ones regarding their characteristics," he said. "Not on engine noise, fuel consumption or flight range, and not to mention the [avionics and internal electronics].

"Unfortunately even our new aircraft, produced at our facilities, have some problems - I have recently seen this personally."

Medvedev did not elaborate on the nature of these issues. Russia's main commercial aviation prospects centre on the Sukhoi Superjet 100, An-148, Tu-204SM and the Irkut MS-21.

He said the industry needed to improve the quality of its aviation products, creating "advanced and promising models", and invited companies to co-operate more closely "not only with traditional but with new partners".

Medvedev said the federal budget was prepared to allocate over Rb5 trillion ($177 billion) to aviation activity by 2020.

"It's a lot of money and every rouble should be spent with utmost efficiency," he said.

Medvedev underlined the decline in civil aviation facilities in Russia, stating that the number of airports had fallen by 40% since 2000 and adding that many current airports' infrastructure needs reconstruction.

Airport and air traffic management modernisation will receive a Rb470 billion share of the federal budget in the medium term, he said.