Jun.19 - Russian and Asian firms want a slice of the airliner market dominated by Airbus and Boeing. But they face a tough time convincing airlines to buy their planes. Julian Satterthwaite reports from the Paris Air Show.
The Sukhoi Superjet could be a sign of things to come. The Russian manufacturer is hoping the new plane will make big sales in the West, and it's not alone. Potential new competitors for Airbus and Boeing are also emerging in China and Japan. Like the Russians they're developing jetliners aimed at the smaller end of the market. The threat may not be immediate, but Boeing Vice President of Marketing Randy Tinseth says the days of the duopoly are already over. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Randy Tinseth, Boeing VP of Marketing, saying: I think there's opportunity for us to grow, I think there's opportunity for Airbus to grow, and there's clearly opportunity for one or two, maybe, succesful new entrants. I think the question is not if, the question is when, and we're hoping it's later rather than sooner With Airbus and Boeing enjoying a combined order backlog of around one trillion dollars, it's no wonder other companies want a slice of the action. But aspiring planemakers all face the same challenge: how do you convince airlines that your products will be reliable and efficient? And how do you convince the travelling public that your planes will be safe to fly? Sukhoi wasn't helped by the crash of one of its Superjets in Indonesia last year. But an early example of Airbus's A320 crashed in 1988, and the plane still became a best-seller. Sukhoi senior vice president Artem Pogosyan says the company's international partners will reassure potential buyers: SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Senior Vice President Artem Pogosyan, saying: Of course there are some problems, but we have officially resolved these problems and the examples of cooperation in terms of financial support, in terms of technical support, for our programme - a lot of countries cooperate with our programme and support us to hedge the risk in the market. Long term it's the Chinese that are being most closely watched. The COMAC C919 is a long way from first flight, but Beijing is determined to build an airliner industry, and has the money to do it. Accenture aviation analyst Damien Lasou: SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) Damien Lasou, Accenture, Global Managing Director Aerospace & Defence, saying: Take the Chinese one. They are relying quite heavily on the Western manufacturers for the landing gear, for the avionics and so on and so forth. They are not trying at all to do an all-Chinese aircraft. They are just trying to create a Chinese aerospace industry for the commercial business. For now, Boeing and Airbus still rule the airways. But there are some nimble new competitors lining up for takeoff, and the skies are about to get more crowded.