Koptev: Russia should remain as world's third largest aircraft maker

Yuri Koptev, director of the board for the military-industrial complex at the Russian Industry and Energy Ministry, said that Russia should retain its place as the third largest maker of aircraft in the world.

"We should preserve Russia as the world's third largest centre capable of manufacturing the entire range of aviation materiel ", Koptev said.

Now, the Russian aviation industry has 320 plants works, employing 320,000 personnel. Thirty percent of them have been put into private hands, 30 percent are joint-stock companies in which the state has the blocking or controlling share, 40 percent are federal unitary state enterprises -- FGUP's.

Koptev recalled that production in the aviation industry fell five to six times in the mid-90s. "Employing 1.5 million people and coming up with 800 flying machines for military and 600 for civil aviation before, the sector is now making only a few", Koptev said.

At the same time, in the last five years production has been going stronger, although state orders have been axed since the early 90s, he noted. "In 2003 we reached 63 percent of the 1992 level of production", the ministerial spokesman said.

Simultaneously, the share of civilian planes has remained at the level of 12 to 13 percent in recent years. Only 11 trunk-line planes were built in 2003, while the manufacturing capacity is ten times more, Koptev said. To remain at the forefront in the world as a nation with its own fleet of aircraft, Russia's air fleet should be renovated. He recalled that over 80 percent of the aeroplanes in the world are leased.

In order to unfold the system of leasing in Russia the Industry and Energy Ministry plans developing amendments to some laws making possible the purchase of planes on bank credits.