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Russian Tupolev long-haul plane to compete on world market soon -1

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MOSCOW, June 6 (RIA Novosti) - Tupolev [RTS: TUPL] will soon receive certification from the EU's aviation safety body for a new long-haul passenger plane that will increase the Russian aircraft-maker's global competitiveness, the director general said Tuesday.

Igor Shevchuk said the company would complete the certification of the Tu-204-300 by European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) standards in the next three months, which would allow it to take on the world's two civilian aircraft giants.

"In July to August 2006, we plan to complete the certification process of this plane according to EASA standards, which will allow us to enter direct competition with Boeing and Airbus," Shevchuk said.

The Tu-204-300 is the first modern Russian-made plane capable of long-haul flights without refueling stops, he said.

The aircraft's first passenger flight, made by one of four Tu-204-300s purchased by regional airline Vladivostok Avia, was completed on June 27, 2005 from the Russian Far East port of Vladivostok to Moscow's Vnukovo Airport.

Boris Alyoshin, head of the Federal Agency for Industry, said in May that exporting the Tu-204-300 was a key objective for Tupolev and for the Russian government.

Shevchuk said that to start the aircraft's mass production, the company would need a little over $200 million in state funds in the form of a guarantee for a starting order of a batch of the planes.

"In order to sustain the Russian aviation industry, a state guarantee for a starting order for a batch of 30-50 of our planes, rather than foreign ones, is all that is needed," he said. "The cost of their production would then fall from $35 million per Tu-204-300 to $20 million."

"This is a small sum for supporting the domestic aviation industry," he said.

The director general said, "I do not agree with the widely-voiced claim that domestic aviation is in a systemic crisis. Standing orders for our Tu-204 and Tu-214 planes from 2007 to 2009 total 40, as well as 35 orders for the Tu-335."

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