Moscow’s JetExpo draws a crowd

 - October 2, 2008, 5:31 AM

Despite a challenging economic climate, business aviation is finding its footing in Russia, as some 8,000 visitors attended JetExpo at Moscow’s Vnukovo-3 last month. This year’s event attracted 100 exhibitors, with 25 airplanes and seven helicopters on the static display.

Most of the business jets on the static line were built outside Russia and some–the Hawker 4000, Learjet 60XR, Piaggo Avanti II, Socata TBM 700, Pilatus PC-12 NG and Airbus Corporate Jetliner–were making their Russian debut.

The Mercury Jet, a small six-ton aircraft with two Williams FJ44 engines, is probably the only homegrown Russian business jet, but at present it is still no more than a concept on show at a company booth at JetExpo.

International cooperation was a theme of the exhibition. Agusta, which recently signed a deal with Rosoboronprom to establish main- tenance facilities in Russia, also has plans for a new AW139 maintenance facility in the Moscow area. Pilatus, whose two main Russian buyers are Dexter and the Ural Mining Company, is going to develop maintenance facilities on Samara’s Kurumoch Airport. Both projects are similar to the future of the Eclipse 500 in Russia, which is to be assembled in Ulyanovsk and for which Etirc is planning to build maintenance facilities throughout Russia.

During the event, Cessna and Dexter revealed more detail about a deal the two inked in the spring. The Russian company bought 20 airplanes, valued at $60 million. The airplanes, scheduled to be delivered in 2011, are now undergoing MAK certification.

According to a Cessna spokes-man, the company received orders for two Citation Columbuses during the show.

British company Reed Exhibitions has purchased JetExpo, and some in Russia question whether the next event will benefit from the over-professionalism of this big western company.