Russia holds back on 130-seat aircraft decision

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Russia's industry minister indicates that a decision on pursuing the 130-seat aircraft sector will be made once the Irkut MS-21 programme is closer to certification.

Denis Manturov spoke during a 23 November high-level transport budget and strategy meeting chaired by prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, who underscored the need for the country's aerospace industry to maintain competitive pressure.

While the Sukhoi Superjet can address the market up to 110 seats and the MS-21 will offer 180 seats, there is no confirmed 130-seat programme.

Maturov said the government was concentrating on the other projects and would assess the state and dynamics of the market as the MS-21 neared certification.

Medvedev said that the Russian aviation market was still among the global top three but warned: "It is not a God-given position."

He said there were "significant internal problems" including a domestic air fleet which was, on average, 17 years old - and closer to 30 years for regional types.

Russian airlines would need around 1,300 passenger aircraft by 2020, he added. The country needs to maintain a strong technological platform and address the "difficult" task of attracting young personnel to the industry, said Medvedev.

He also warned that the product line needed to be "optimised" and said that the industry must evaluate not only the areas in which it could maintain a strong position but also look at areas which would be "difficult" to keep pursuing.

While the Superjet 100 and MS-21 were discussed, a transcript of the meeting released by the government did not mention the Tupolev Tu-204SM.

Medvedev said the industry must be "pragmatic" regarding competitiveness, and focus on "products to be sold, not create a warehouse".