Paul Duffy/MOSCOW Chris Jasper/LONDON

Boeing is to use a new accord with the Russian aerospace industry to make its first tentative steps into the regional jet (RJ) market. Chairman and chief executive Phil Condit says Boeing has struck a deal with seven Russian companies to develop a family of 50-90 seat RJs for the Russian and export markets.

EADS is also increasing its involvement in Russia, signing a new deal covering most sectors of the aerospace industry.

Boeing currently lacks a product in the sub-100 seat market, but has been pondering a move into the sector for some years.

The 50-seat market is already one of the industry's most crowded niches, while new 70- and 90-seat aircraft are being developed by BAE Systems, Bombardier (which has already handed over its first CRJ700), Embraer and Fairchild Dornier.

Condit says the new RJ would be built in Russia, and it is understood that Boeing will help sell the aircraft, provide lease finance services for it and help secure inter-national certification.

"Boeing will provide the commercial and marketing expertise," says Condit. "We bring a very detailed knowledge and analysis of the market, and will have considerable input. We see a large market in Russia and the CIS for these aircraft, and opportunities on the world market."

The Seattle company's seven partner companies include Ilyushin, Tupolev and research institute TsAGI, which are expected to compete to develop a wholly new design, possibly killing off the passenger version of the Ilyushin Il-214 military transport and 50-seat Tupolev Tu-324 projects. The new aircraft would most likely be built at the Kazan or Samara production sites.

Boeing has also agreed to increase co-operation with Rusaviakosmos (RAK), the Russian air and space agency. It will develop a ground-based version of the Sea Launch programme, using the Baikanour launch site in Kazakhstan and a two-stage version of the Ukrainian Zenit booster, and continue to develop the FGB-2 International Space Station module with Khrunichev.

It will also work with Russia on air traffic management developments - particularly transpolar routes - and will establish a maintenance facility for large commercial transports. Boeing will continue its design work in Moscow, which employs 300 technicians, and its partnership with VSMPO on titanium alloys, and will set up an IT research facility.

EADS has meanwhile finalised an agreement deepening a memorandum of understanding with Russia signed in December (Flight International, 19 December-1 January). The deal is worth €2.2 billion ($1.97 billion) and 4,000 jobs to Russia over 10 years, and will cover Airbus work, helicopters, military combat and transport aircraft, training, space launchers and Russian involvement in Europe's global satellite navigation system Galileo.

Source: Flight International