Russian President Dmitry Medvedev called for a revival of light aviation in Russia on Tuesday, including purchases of foreign aircraft in the absence of domestically-produced equipment.
“Light aviation has degraded and revived as much as it probably could have in the central part of Europe, but it absolutely cannot survive in a country like Russia,” he said at a meeting with activists from the ruling United Russia party after the issue was raised by Emergencies Minister Sergei Shoigu.
Medvedev reiterated that in Russia there are 28,000 locations where it is possible to travel to only by helicopter or airplane.
“We need to revive light aviation. We have good provision for it here. If there aren’t the right aircraft for some reason, or they don’t work, we need to get foreign ones,” he said.
He noted that replacement of the ageing Antonov An-2 biplane had not happened and the intended replacement, the turboprop An-3, had not made any progress.
“We need to build something new. It’s good if we can design our own and produce it, but we have to live for today and so I think we need to buy or lease foreign equipment to get services running,” he said.
Medvedev said it was vital to plan this process.
“We can solve this problem in ten years if we start now,” he said.
Light aviation lobby groups in Russia such as the Russian United Business Aviation Association have cited problems such as unsuitable legislation for registering small airlines, a lack of competition for ground services at airports and import duties on light aircraft as reasons for the decline of the sector.
A number of foreign manufacturers including Czech firm Evektor and Canada’s Viking Air have announced plans to build general aviation aircraft in Russia to replace the An-2.