Opening Address at the Meeting on the Development of the Aviation Industry 2006-12-19 22:27:39 The Kremlin, Moscow President Vladimir Putin: Dear colleagues! We are meeting to discuss the ways to help improve the Russian aviation industry and other issues linked to this sector. For decades our country has been counted among the world’s major aircraft producers. Russian aircraft of all classes and types were the pride of both the national and international aviation industries. Many of them are still on a par with their best foreign counterparts. However, this earlier developed resource is not limitless. We both know and understand this perfectly. Aviation products manufactured mainly in the 1970s and 1980s are quickly growing older. Furthermore, in the last ten years Russian companies have only produced slightly more than 50 new civil airplanes. In the past few years a range of measures designed to improve the situation in the aviation industry have been adopted. A programme for the development of civil aviation equipment and a state weapons programme have started to be implemented. In November 2006 a United Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation was established. This corporation’s main task is to gather together and concentrate all available resources towards really promising projects. In practice, a kind of launching pad that should help aircraft manufacturers produce modern, competitive products is now available. However, along with this, we must still do a great deal to ensure the future development of the aviation industry. In connection with this I would like to draw your attention to several key points. The first. Both the aviation industry and its parts suppliers must modernise the technology they use. It is obvious that this could be done through a balanced approach towards purchasing advanced technology of foreign origin as well as producing our own technology in Russia. Along with this a system of financing that would allow our domestic aviation companies to keep functioning at full capacity must be determined. Priority tasks include large-scale personnel training to enable employees to work with new technology, in a new technological environment. This concerns all categories of aircraft manufacturers: workers, technicians, engineers and, no less important, production managers and managers in general. And we must pay special attention to ensuring that young graduates benefit from high-quality training. The future of Russian aircraft manufacturing depends on them. Second. As Russia is literally just a step away from acceding to the World Trade Organisation we will continue to work on this issue and, as before, we will be guided by our national interests. In connection with this we need to protect domestic producers of aviation technology by using various contemporary methods and means that are accepted in the world economy. We see how rigidly and consistently foreign aviation corporations defend their interests. We have acquired a lot of experience from cooperation with our partners. And we must have our own strategy, plan for development, and defend our own interests. Third. Developing cooperation has a key value. I am referring to both cooperation between Russian aviation companies, manufacturers and their parts suppliers, as well as strengthening the ties between Russian companies and their foreign partners. It is well-known that technological and industrial cooperation is the main way to preserve our production levels, level of technology, stage of development, and also reduce the expense of producing aviation equipment. In addition to this, partnership with foreign aircraft manufacturers will provide us with additional opportunities to enter the market of third countries. Another priority task consists in increasing the level of aviation security. Nothing is or will be done halfway in this sphere. It is impossible to scrimp on fuel, on the preparation of flight personnel, on the quality of equipment. It is the question of our citizens’ lives, the lives of crews and passengers. The system designed to ensure flight security also requires improvements. It is necessary to continue modernising airfield infrastructure. And in Russia, quite a lot of financial means have been allocated towards developing infrastructure – including aviation and airfield infrastructure – within various national programmes. We must also devote more efforts towards improving air navigation and meteorological equipment. In conclusion I would like to emphasise that Russia was, is, and certainly remains a major power in the aviation industry. The efforts of several generations of our citizens have resulted in a strong tradition of aircraft manufacturing. And we need to use all available opportunities to ensure that the national aviation industry rises to meet the challenge of the 21st century and the requirements of today’s world.