Russian aircraft manufacturer Irkut Corporation is expanding its footprint in Latin America, and Brazil in particular. In September 2015, the company announced interest in focusing activities on Brazil by promoting sales of its MC-21 family of airliners and opening a facility to produce components for the aircraft in the country.

Cementing the deal, Irkut has signed a memorandum of understanding and co-operation with the Brazilian state of Parana. The goal is to promote its MC-21 range of narrow-bodied airliners – which are still in the development stage of production and are being built using a new kind of weight-saving composite technology – and manufacture some of the components in Brazil. Reports indicate that the Russian company also plans to establish an aviation cluster in the city of Maringa in Parana.

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Chocks away

The Irkut Corporation is a major global player in aircraft manufacturing. The company is a division of the United Aircraft Corporation Group (UAC), with sales in 2014 exceeding $4.8bn. Brazil is attractive in that it represents 35% of all Latin America’s air traffic, making it the largest market in the Southern Hemipshere. According to the International Air Transport Association, between 2015 and 2034 the Brazilian domestic market will grow at 5.4%, exceeding the world average, adding 147 million extra passengers annually and making it the fifth fastest growing market in the world.

“This will be reflected in the number of aircraft required to serve the Brazilian market, which is expected to triple by this period,” says Adalberto Netto, president of Invest in Parana.

Mr Netto maintains that aircraft manufacturers and their suppliers need to diversify, and establish new maintenance and supply hubs in Brazil. “The state of Parana offers the best alternative in the south of Brazil to locate firms related to aviation,” he says. 

Parana's advantages, he says, lie in its airport infrastructure, which is ranked among the best in Brazil. Improvements at Afonso Pena International Airport, for example, have allowed the airport to facilitate heavier aircraft. “Parana is also a neighbouring state of São Paulo, and can easily be reached by key air hubs such as Campinas and São Paulo, and the aviation cluster of Sao Jose dos Campos,” says Mr Netto.

Preparing for takeoff 

Particularly attractive to aviation companies such as Irkut is the Maringa Aviation Industrial Park, which provides unique advantages for companies operating in maintenance, repair and overhaul, manufacturing and logistics. The industrial park provides up to 1.62 square kilometres of land for companies involved in the aviation industry, and is integrated with the Maringa Airport, which is administered by the municipality. “It therefore provides faster and independent capabilities in terms of investment, operation and support to companies,” says Mr Netto. 

Maringa will also host the 19th Brazilian EAB international aviation fair between September 21 to 24, 2016.

“At state level, Parana is the only state that has specific legislation and an incentives programme for the aviation industry,” says Mr Netto. “The programme, called Parana Aereo, offers a complete structure of support, including financing, infrastructure and area development, workforce training, aviation innovation programmes and incentives.”

He adds that Irkut will take advantage of such incentives and the region's aviation ecosystem when it makes its investments in the region.

“In its pursuit to expand its civil aviation operations in the Latin American markets, Irkut identified the Maringa offer as advantageous in the context of Brazil and Latin America,” says Mr Netto. “Along with other American and European companies that are installed or considering projects in Parana, Irkut will have full support from the government and from the investment promotion agency of Parana."