Pilots with the guest Russian Air
Force "Knights" Aerobatic Team stage aerobatics to mark the grand opening
of the Airshow China 2006 in Zhuhai, southern China's coastal city, on
October 30, 2006. [newsphoto]
ZHUHAI, China - Russia's
aerospace companies were out in force as the world's aircraft makers gathered
Monday for China's biggest air show, looking to the booming Chinese market to
drive sales as their industry's growth slows elsewhere.
Boeing Co, Airbus Industrie and other companies from 18 countries were
displaying aircraft, engines and other equipment at the five-day exhibition,
which starts Tuesday in this southern Chinese boomtown near Hong Kong.
Russian companies were displaying warplanes and civilian aircraft, as well as
missiles and military electronics, reflecting China's status as Moscow's leading
arms export market and Russian ambitions to expand in commercial aviation.
were showing civilian cargo and passenger planes and a giant military transport,
while Boeing and Airbus displayed only scale models of their planes, with no
full-size aircraft. A five-member Russian military aerobatics team flying
supersonic Sukhoi-27 fighters was scheduled to perform.
China is expected to be the fastest-growing market for commercial aircraft
over the next two decades. Chicago-based Boeing said last week that it expects
carriers to purchase 2,900 new planes worth $280 billion over that period.
Held every two years, the Zhuhai show is a platform for newcomers looking for
a foothold in China's aircraft market and for its own fledging industry to show
off its products.
Airbus, struggling with costly delays in its super-jumbo A380 jet, got a
boost last week when China signed a deal last week to buy 150 A320 planes. At
the same time, Toulouse, France-based Airbus signed agreements to open a final
assembly line in China, its first outside Europe.
In Zhuhai, Airbus was displaying a 9-foot-long model of the A380.
Also on hand was Brazil's Embraer SA, a maker of midsize regional jets that
in 2004 became the first foreign aircraft maker to set up a Chinese factory. It
was showing one of its 190-model jets.
The exhibition also showcased dozens of companies from China's state-run
aerospace industry, which is struggling to raise the level of Chinese military
technology and break into export markets.
Displays included a model cabin of an ARJ-21, which is meant to be China's
first contender in the market for regional jets. The plane, which reportedly is
to seat 78 to 105 passengers, is made by China Aviation Industry Corp., also
known as AVIC I. The company hasn't said when it expects to bring its first
models to market.
An executive of another military aerospace company, China Aviation Industry
Corp. II, or AVIC II, said it is looking for partners as it tries to expand
"We will combine research and production in military and civilian fields, but
we will focus on civilian aircraft, and we also will expand our exports," Li
Shentian, director of the company's General Office, said at a news conference.
"We would like to expand our cooperation with other companies," he said.
No Western makers of military aircraft took part at Zhuhai, apparently due to
US and European weapons embargoes imposed on Beijing after 1989.
The Russian pavilion included booths for makers of Sukhoi and MiG fighter
jets, anti-ship missiles, radar and military avionics, as well as Tupolev and
Ilyushin passenger and cargo planes.
China accounted for 45 percent of Moscow's $6 billion in arms exports last
year as Beijing upgraded its arsenal with Russian fighter jets, submarines and
other high-tech weaponry, according to the Stockholm International Peace
Research Institute, a think tank.
But despite Russia's prominent displays in Zhuhai, there was no indication
that Mosow would be showing its most advanced aircraft, such as the Sukhoi-33
and 35 fighter jets.