Gref Lends Support to Regional Jet Plan
Economic Development and Trade Minister German
Gref on Wednesday threw his weight behind the Russian Regional
Jet, promising government support for the landmark project, which
is expected to put Russia back on the map of global aviation.
"We have full confidence that this jet will
be made," Gref told reporters after the project's presentation
at the Moscow design bureau of fighter jet manufacturer Sukhoi,
the leader of the project.
Gref, who in the past has criticized the Russian
aviation industry, during the presentation repeatedly needled
Sukhoi executives on whether their jet was in the same class as
those made by Brazil's Embraer.
"I have sat in the Embraer cockpit, I suggest
you do too," Gref told Sukhoi CEO Mikhail Pogosyan. Embraer,
along with Canada's Bombardier, is a global leader in regional
Gref, however, said that his visit to Sukhoi
boosted his confidence in the RRJ, and he confirmed that in the
next three years the government would allocate 8.6 billion rubles
($300 million) for the project.
The funding, which is expected to cover more
than one-third of the project's development, has already been
included in the government's draft budget for 2006.
RRJ, a family of jets seating between 65 and
95 passengers, will be test flown in the first half of 2007 and
will enter mass production in January 2008, with 60 jets to be
made that year. Sukhoi plans to sell up to 750 such jets internationally
by 2024, including 300 in Russia and the CIS.