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Russian PM Medvedev: 'we need a new regional plane'

By The Siberian Times reporter
08 August 2012

Air services are the lifeline of some of the world's most remote communities, with no road or rail links.

AN-2 biplane. Picture: Kaliningrad Sport Aviation Club

'The country relies on hundreds of aging Antonov An-2 biplanes which can carry 12 passengers, and Mi-8 helicopters,' explained RIA Novosti in a report this week.

The workhorse An-2 was designed after the Second World War in Stalin times yet is still the vital link to the outside world for distant settlements. 

Its 45-year production run was at some point the longest ever for an aircraft before it was exceeded by the Lockheed C-130 Hercules.

Prime minister Dmitry Medvedev's visit to Novosibirsk on Tuesday highlighted the need for modernisation of the regional air transport system in Siberia. 

'We need to think about creating a regional aircraft in Russia - either ourselves, which in my view is unlikely, though if you surprised me, I'd be glad to hear it - or with a world-class foreign manufacturer,' he said. 

He raised the 'very complicated' and 'very important' issue, namely 'old planes and no means for their quick renewal'.

Speaking at Siberia's largest airport, Tolmachevo in Novosibirsk, Medvedev said: 'We started a special programme of subsiding plane leasing, up to 30% of its price. 

'But it is clear that we need our own plane, it is obvious. 

'Until its created, we can keep leasing foreign planes - but we do need our own plane. '

Western manufacturers, including Canada's Viking Air and Czech plane-maker Evektor, have been in talks with Russian partners over possible license manufacturing of their regional aircraft in Russia, but no deal has yet been concluded, reported RIA Novosti. 

Medvedev criticised regional governments in Russia for failing to support the state programme for subsidised operation of air transportation services, and called on  the Transport Ministry to investigate why only half a dozen regions take advantage of it. 

'If this programme is dead, let's close it', he said. 

'Let's keep the federal money back for other purposes. And if the scheme is useful, we need to look at why other regions haven't taken it up'. 

Russia has suffered a huge drop in regional air services since the end of the USSR 21 years ago. 

In Soviet times, routes were heavily subsidised while now they must be more driven by market forces. 

Comments (3)

wouldnt mind flying it one day:) love old planes
Maria, Berlin
11/08/2012 00:41
2
0
they are v reliable, AN-2s, and can land at almost no space at all - ideal for villages where you cant get other than by air
Olga, Krasnoyarsk
08/08/2012 15:38
10
0
about time! there must be a much better connection between the diff parts of Siberia... this AN-2 plane looks ready for aviation museum
Ron, Texas
08/08/2012 03:45
11
0
1

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