Putin Creates Centralized Aviation Research Center to Spearhead Industrial Revival

A new law mandates the creation of a new central research institute for aviation research.

President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a law establishing a new national aviation research center under direct government control to unite several disparate aviation research organizations into one unit and boost Russia's industrial potential in the field.

A Kremlin document announcing the creation of the new center said it was “a key element of the national innovation system for the aviation industry [that] will ensure implementation of a unified scientific, technological innovation and human resources policy.”

The Soviet Union was an aviation powerhouse, but since its collapse research in the sector has ground to a near halt, and Russia's ability to produce existing and new aircraft designs has become limited.

With the advent of Western sanctions in the wake of Moscow's annexation of Crimea in March, Russia's aviation sector has been jolted into action. The sanctions have curbed technology transfers, particularly in the defense sector, and shut down one Russian airline by annulling its leasing agreement for Western civilian airliners signed with a European financial organization. Further sanctions could do greater damage.

The new law mandates the creation of a new central research institute for aviation research, named the Zhukovsky National Research Center, by grouping together five prominent research centers already in action and placing them under government control, news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The idea is to ensure that the aviation sector is pursuing projects important to the government and Russia's defense industry, according to a document published on the Kremlin website on Wednesday. The defense industry as a whole is struggling to meet the demands of an import substitution drive as sanctions limit access to advanced Western components.

The new center's research and work agenda will be governed by a board of directors made up of 15 individuals representing the Kremlin and Russia's two houses of parliament, the State Duma and Federation Council. Aviation scientists and defense industry officials will sit also on the board, RIA Novosti said.

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