This news will surely have some far-reaching implications within the Russian aviation industry. In light of recent developments in the "merging" of the aviation companies into distinct business units, will this plan by Boeing ever get past the "let us tell media about our plans for Russia" phase?
And what, if any, do people see as being the advantage for the Russian manufacturers in this? Apart from the obvious; bringing them much needed cash
Boeing in talks to build planes in Russia
MOSCOW - U.S. Boeing Corp is in talks with Russian aviation companies over the joint production of two jet liners, a senior official for the aerospace giant was quoted as saying on Tuesday.
Thomas Pickering, Boeing senior vice president for international relations, told the Vedomosti daily newspaper that the projects had the potential to bring big financial returns to both Russia and Boeing.
"Both projects are being evaluated for their technical and economic feasibility and a business plan is being worked out," Pickering was quoted as saying.
"Our main task now in the preparatory stages is to fully study the needs of potential clients so that our product will be suitably competitive on a market that has great potential."
Plans to jointly develop the new planes are part of a major cooperation agreement that was signed in April by Boeing CEO Philip Condit and Yuri Koptev, the head of Russia's joint aviation and space agency Rosaviakosmos.
Pickering, former ambassador to Russia and a U.S. under-secretary of state, said it was too early to say how much money could be invested in development of the aircraft, but that financing "could take on an international character".
He said also that one of the projects, for a regional jet liner, foresaw creation of an entirely new plane.
"No prototype exists for it now. Design work will be done in Russia with methodological support from Boeing," he said. "I believe that joint work between Boeing and Russia...is capable of creating a revolution."
Pickering added that Boeing was considering opening a service centre for its aircraft in Russia, but no concrete decision had yet been taken on that possibility.
Boeing is one of Russia's most prominent foreign investors. Over the last eight years it has invested $1 billion in the country and works with more than 500 Russian engineers and scientists. It has sold about 50 planes in Russia and other former Soviet states since the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.
In peak years, the Soviet Union built up to 60 percent of world aircraft, but its collapse ravaged aviation enterprises. Last year Russia produced just four planes, compared with 489 by Boeing alone.
From the Seattle Times
*** Boeing, Russia Jet Partners?
Boeing`s talk of teaming up with Russia on an all-new passenger jet could lead to a partnership between two countries rich in aerospace heritage, but some observers doubt a joint venture will come to fruition.
Thomas Pickering, Boeing`s senior vice president of international relations, elaborated last week on a recent agreement between Boeing and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, telling journalists in Europe the company might develop an aircraft, possibly a regional jet, as part of the partnership. Russians would build the jet with Boeing's help.
Russia offers a tantalizing market, but Boeing would be venturing into new territory. A regional jet would be smaller than any passenger jet Boeing has built.
Aviation consultant Adam Pilarski questioned how much Boeing understands regional jets, whose customers usually are not the same ones that buy Boeing`s bigger airliners.
The regional-jet market is highly competitive, with Bombardier, Embraer and Fairchild Dornier leading the pack, and a host of nations, including South Korea, India and China, nursing dreams of developing their own smaller jets, said Pilarski, a senior vice president of Aviatas, an aviation-consulting firm in Reston, Va.
Still, the Russians have a big need for new regional jets and lack money to buy them.
Aeroflot, the Russian carrier, was once the world`s largest airline. But since the fall of the Soviet Union a decade ago, the Russian aviation market has shrunk dramatically, and virtually no civilian planes are being built there.
Pilarski said he doubts a Russian-built jet would find many customers outside its home. Despite success in space, the country has a dismal record in civil aviation. Aeroflot at one time was crashing with such regularity that the U.S. Embassy in Moscow told its employees to avoid traveling by air.
Given Boeing`s financial muscle and aerospace know-how, ``if they want to crush the existing competitors, they can do it. They can drive everybody out of business,`` Pilarski said. ``But I`m not positive that it will be a smart move.``
The joint-venture idea is part of an agreement signed last month by Boeing Chairman Phil Condit and the Russian Aviation and Space Agency /Rosaviakosmos/.
It is Boeing`s plan for the possible new jetliner that is attracting the most scrutiny from Boeing workers in the Puget Sound area. The Russians are discussing building a 50- to 100-seat short-haul plane that could be sold worldwide.
``This is something we want to watch very closely,`` said Bill Dugovich, spokesman for the Seattle engineering union at Boeing.
Adding to the engineers` concern is that the Russians are experts in working with titanium, a metal noted for its strength, heat resistance and relatively light weight. Titanium parts could play a crucial role in Boeing`s proposed Sonic Cruiser, Dugovich said.
Boeing already has close ties with the Russians. They are joint-venture partners in the International Space Station and in Sea Launch, which launches satellites from a converted oil platform.
The Russians also contributed a noise-prediction model that made the next-generation 737 jetliners quieter, as well as design for the pivoting overhead bins in the 777.
Boeing so far is only examining the feasibility of potentially building a plane with the Russians, said Rick Fuller, a Boeing spokesman. ``There is no commitment to do anything.``
The size of the airplane envisioned by Russia could overlap with Boeing's 106-seat 717, which is built in Long Beach, Calif., as well as the 110-seat 737-600, which is assembled in Renton.
Boeing had considered shrinking the 717 down to about 80 seats or enlarging it to about 125 seats, but so far hasn't found enough market interest, said John Thom, a Boeing spokesman in Long Beach.
He said any jet venture with Russia is far off and would have to address the ``impact it would have on the current Boeing planes.``
By Kyung M. Song /Seattle Times/