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EADS expects Russian deal by year-end

EADS hopes to define the scope and level of co-operation with the Russian aerospace industry before the end of this year.

The European company's president Tom Enders says he has discussed the issue with Russia's United Aircraft (OAK) president Alexey Fedorov and his team.

"We hope to make a decision in principle on the forms and share of their participation in the A350 production programme by 2008," says Enders, citing Russia's strong interest in attaining a higher level of partnership with Airbus.

In particular, OAK has proposed expanding a range of parts and components, to be supplied for new Airbus models by Russian manufacturers on a long-term basis.

Constituent firm NPO Irkut is keen to work jointly with Airbus on the medium-haul MS-21, for which it has an overall responsibility, with a risk-sharing arrangement as an option.

"We've addressed the MS-21 theme too and will continue these talks," says Enders. "First, there's a need to define a platform for partnership in the MS-21 project that suggests developing an entire aircraft family. We're only at the beginning of the road in that respect."

Enders speaks more definitively about the Airbus plan to co-operate with Russian aerospace firms on a civil freighter conversion business, initially focusing on A320/A321 family aircraft. He says conversion work will begin at a dedicated facility in Russia in 2010.

Airbus initially estimated demand for A320 converted freighters at 400 units, but now considers 1,000 as a realistic figure. "We already have the first customer for these aircraft, while others are lining up," says an EADS executive.

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