ZHUKOVSKY, Moscow region — The MAKS air show in the city of Zhukovsky set a record in terms of business deals and attendance, while experts said the quality of its air acrobatics surpassed those of Farnborough and Le Bourget.
Aviation companies signed contracts worth more than $21 billion, up from more than $16 billion two years ago, said Alexander Yelizarov, head of Aviasalon, the company that organized the event, Itar-Tass reported.
But if the air acrobatics at MAKS are more spectacular than those at other large world shows, the value of business deals at the Russian event is nowhere near that of its foreign counterparts.
The Le Bourget air show that was held in France in June saw a record $125 billion worth of signed contracts.
But the spectators enjoyed one of the most spectacular air displays that professionals said outmaneuvered any similar show in the world, such as Farnborough or Le Bourget.
"MAKS gives you the most impressive acrobatics show among all major world exhibits," said Pascal Verneau, an Airbus test pilot. "What the fighter jets do in the air here is fantastic."
The participants of the air show, as well as the spectators, noted that it was well organized, considering the magnitude of the event and the number of people involved.
"The level of organization at MAKS has improved from what it was two years ago. It can really be called a world-class air show," said Sergei Kravchenko, president of Boeing in Russia and other countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States. "It is accessible for aviation enthusiasts and comfortable for doing business," he added.
Despite heavy rain, people came by the thousands on Saturday to see an action-packed air acrobatics performance.
The organizers said earlier that they expected half a million visitors. More than 150,000 people came on Saturday, a record in the history of the MAKS show. The trains and buses heading to MAKS were full early in the morning Saturday and the grass around the airfield was densely packed with aviation enthusiasts well before the flights began.
"There were too many people, I could not even get to any of the ground displays," a young man told his girlfriend — a conversation overheard in a packed bus in the evening on the way back from the show. "But the air performance was great though," she replied.
The performance was held virtually nonstop from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tons of fuel were burned and just about every possible type of plane and helicopter flew above the heads of the spectators.
A white Airbus A380, so far the largest passenger airplane built, gracefully swept through the air after what seemed an effortless takeoff.
Before him, the air was ripped apart by fighter planes performing a series of acrobatic stunts.
Four Su-27 planes, each weighing more than 25 tons, did somersaults, figures resembling a cobra attack, a bell, turns, flips and high-speed, deafening passes.
After them, a Ka-52 attack helicopter performed full loops in the air and passed over the heads of the audience as if preparing an attack on ground targets.
The most anticipated were T-50 fifth-generation fighter planes and the Russian Knights, Eagles, Falcons and Swifts acrobatic teams. All of them did their stunts in the gray sky to a continuous standing ovation of the audience.
Not only Russian but also Swiss, Latvian, French, Ukrainian and Canadian teams performed at the show, although the U.S. Air Force did not do an air display as it did at the previous exhibit two years ago.
Unlike at MAKS 2011, U.S. military planes were not present on the ground either.
|Major deals closed at MAKS-2013|
|Sukhoi Civil Aviation||Sberbank Leasing||20 Sukhoi Superjet100||$700 million|
|Sukhoi Civil Aviation||Ilyushin Finance||20 Sukhoi Superjet100||$700 million|
|Sukhoi Civil Aviation||VEB Leasing||6 Sukhoi Superjet100||$217 million|
|Irkut||Sberbank Leasing||20 MS-21||$1.7 billion|
|Irkut||IrAero||10 MS-21||$720 million|
|Irkut||VEB Leasing||30 MS-21||$2.5 billion|
|Russian Helicopters||Vertical de Aviacion||5 Mi-171A1
|Engine Alliance||Transaero||Engines for 4 Airbus A380||$500 million|
|Bombardier Aerospace||Rostec||50 Q400||$1.6 billion|