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VEB Seeks Help Abroad to Make New Plane

SOCHI — State development bank VEB wants to finance the creation of a new regional jetliner following last week's air crash that killed a local hockey team, chairman Vladimir Dmitriyev said.

Russia's own producer, United Aircraft Corp., can team up with Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica, known as Embraer, Montreal-based Bombardier or European Aeronautic, Defence & Space Co. to develop an airplane with fewer than 50 seats, he told reporters Saturday.

"We have a catastrophic situation in aviation today," Dmitriyev, who is also chairman of United Aircraft, told a news conference in Sochi.

A chartered Yak-42 plane carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team crashed on Sept. 7 during takeoff, killing 44 of the 45 crew and passengers on board. President Dmitry Medvedev said a day after the crash that Russia may turn to foreign plane makers to ensure safe air travel.

The number of air accidents in Russia in the first seven months soared 60 percent to 24 and the number of fatalities jumped ninefold to 72, State Statistics Service data show.

Russian air carriers increased the number of foreign aircraft in their fleets to 528 from 46 units in 2000, according to the Federal Air Transportation Agency. Domestic airplanes account for 48 percent of the 608 mid- and long-range passenger jets now in operation.

Dmitriyev said in April last year that his bank was in talks with Embraer to make regional airplanes at a production plant in Kazan.

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