XIV International Aviation and Space Salon – a short overview of MAKS-2019

XIV International Aviation and Space Salon (Международный авиационно-космический салон), usually also called ´MAKS-2019´, was held at Zhukovsky International Airport / Gromov Flight Research Institute, Moscow area, between 27th August and 1st September 2019. The 14th edition of the biggest aviation event in Russia, being both the air show and trade fair, attracted more than 827 exhibitors from 33 countries.

It has already become a tradition that on the official opening, the show is visited by Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia. This year, however, he was accompanied by the President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the double-presidential visit was one of the trade show highlights, precisely arranged in advance.

There were no doubts that presentation of the Russian aerospace industry and its capabilities was the main reason of Erdogan´s visit at MAKS-2019. Hopes were high, especially regarding the potential Turkish interest in Sukhoi fighters and other Russian aircraft – however, there are no tangible results until today, even though it seemed directly after the show, that Turkish-Russian cooperation reached a new level.

Mi-38T, Russian Helicopters exhibition at MAKS-2019

MAKS-2019 exhibition was, as usual, divided into two parts and started with the professional aviation and space trade fair held during the first three days of the event, followed by the publicly accessible air show over the weekend.

The professional trade show attracted more than 827 exhibitors, 184 of them being the foreign companies from 33 countries. For the first time in the history of MAKS aviation salon, the People´s Republic of China was the partner state of the fair, exhibiting in a separated pavilion with an area of 3,000 square metres. In addition to China, nine other national exhibition areas were constructed.

Several Russian and international aviation and space companies presented their products on the total area of 26,500 square metres of pavilions and additional 45,000 square metres of the outdoor exhibition. The exhibitions attracting the greatest attention were the space exhibition (arranged by Roskosmos company, with the cooperation of Lavochkin NPO, RSC Energia and Energomash), the already mentioned Chinese pavilion and the United Aircraft Corporation exhibition.

Those professional days were visited by 143,500 aero and space specialists, among them were 120 official foreign delegations, that arrived through Rosboronexport (the sole state intermediary agency for export of defence-related and dual use products, technologies and services). During the trade fair approximately 90 conferences, seminars and strategic sessions were organized, attended by more than 2,000 participants.

Roskosmos space exhibition

In conclusion, it was officially reported, that during the 14th edition of MAKS aviation and space salon contracts and agreements with 250 billion rubles of total value were signed. In addition, the overall business potential of the fair was estimated at 400 billion rubles (approximately 5,7 billion EUR).

As usual, for the Russian aerospace industry this event was the excellent opportunity to show the whole world its capability and a wide range of products, especially that there were more than 238 foreign media accredited at MAKS-2019. From the newest jet fighters and helicopters, through the transport aeroplanes, UAVs and satellites, to the passenger airliners and even the general aviation aircraft – all those aviation and space vehicles could be seen at MAKS-2019 and the total number of exhibited aircraft reached 202, including 81 of them participating in the flying programme.

There was one undisputed star of the show, and this was Sukhoi Su-57 jet fighter, for the first time ever exhibited also at the static display and available to be seen up-close. This was, certainly, just a full-scale mock-up of the Russian 5th generation fighter (just like any other advanced combat aircraft accessible to general public) and, additionally, shown in its export variant, called Su-57E. The newest Russian fighter jet is still a kind of a Holy Grail for most aviation professionals and enthusiasts, so there was no surprise that the Su-57E exhibition area was hopelessly crowded during all six days of the event.

Sukhoi Su-57E at MAKS-2019 static display

Somehow in the shadow of Su-57, the Russian aviation industry presented a very interesting range of other military aeroplanes and helicopters, among them the 4++ generation MiG-35 fighter, Be-200ES multipurpose amphibious aircraft, and an impressive range of Il-76 transport aeroplane variants (including the newest Il-78M-90A refuelling aircraft, having its public premiere at MAKS-2019).

Again as in 2017, the exhibition of Russian Helicopters holding company attracted the eyes of many visitors by showing a great variety of manufactured rotorcrafts: modernized Mi-35 attack helicopter, the first serial-manufactured Mi-38, new variant of Mi-26 heavy-lift helicopter, Ka-62 multi-purpose rotorcraft (shown for the first time also during the flying display programme) and many others.

The passenger aircraft section was dominated by the new airliners – the newest Russian medium-haul MC-21-300 aeroplane, Airbus A350-900 wide-body airliner, Embraer E-195E2 short-range aircraft (shown in the attractive ´Tech Lion´ livery) and CR929 long-haul, wide-body airliner that is going to be co-manufactured by Russia and China. The latter was presented as a full-scale model that included the cockpit section, fragments of first, business and economy class salons, and service area. It should be acknowledged that CR929 drew a lot of attention both during the professional and open days, and those who wanted to see the interior of the new airliner had to wait in long line to get inside.

A model of CR929 airliner at the Chinese exhibition

Also the foreign aircraft manufacturers exhibited a number of aeroplanes, including a few debuting at the Russian air show, as Pilatus PC-24 business jet (capable of operating from unpaved airfield) and Piper M500 light aircraft. Piaggio P.180 Avanti was another general aviation aircraft that aroused curiosity, especially due its pusher configuration.

For the first time at MAKS, the special section focused on all-purpose UAVs was arranged. Approximately twenty manufacturers and developers participated in this exhibition, showing not only the UAVs itself, but also the additional electronic equipment and software. In addition, more Russian and Chinese military UAVs were available at the aircraft static display.

As usual, the Russian Aerospace Forces participated in the exhibition with an impressive range of its equipment. All visitors to the event could see the long-range strategic bombers Tu-22M3, Tu-95 and Tu-160; a variety of fighter aircraft including Su-35, Su-34, MiG-29 and MiG-31; attack and multi-purpose helicopters, or transport aircraft.

In addition to the static and dynamic displays being the part of the trade show and presenting either the current inventory of Russian military and civil aircraft or the newly manufactured prototypes, the significant section of the exhibition was dedicated to the historical aircraft. And it must be highlighted, that this was an impressive collection, being a dream of any aviation enthusiast.

One of MAKS-2019 debuts – Il-78M-90A refuelling aircraft

Among several iconic aircraft from the World War II and the Cold War era, the visitors to the exhibition could see Il-2 ´Shturmovik´, MiG-3 and I-15bis warbirds (all of them in airworthy condition), a legendary Tu-144 supersonic airliner, Tu-155 alternative fuel test-bed, Sukhoi Su-47 ´Berkut´ and MiG 1.44 prototypes, Myasishchev VM-T Atlant strategic air-lift aeroplane, and also MiG-15, MiG-21 and MiG-27 jet aircraft.

At the end, the flying displays of XIV International Aviation and Space Salon must be also mentioned. They were, as with the whole event, divided into two blocks – during the professional days a few presentation flights were arranged, focused mainly on the newest aircraft offered for sale. The spectators could follow the flying displays of Su-35 and Su-57 fighters, Yak-130 jet trainer / light combat aeroplane, airliners and helicopters.

Starting on Friday, during each day of the weekend, the 14th edition of MAKS offered approximately six hours of interesting air show programme. A wide range of flying displays included the modern military jets, aerobatic solo and team performances, passenger airliner demo flight, several helicopter displays and, finally, the part of the dynamic display programme especially loved by the spectators – aerobatic jet teams. In 2019, similar to previous edition, there were Falcons of Russia, the Russian Knights, Swifts, Russ Team and Baltic Bees Jet Team that presented their high aerobatic skills over Zhukovsky airfield. For the first time at MAKS, the show called ´Air combat with elements of super manoeuvrability´, was performed by two Su-30SM fighters from the Russian Navy. The flying display of World War II iconic aircraft, Il-2 ´Shturmovik´, was just the icing on the flying display cake.

Another new feature at MAKS-2019 was the short competition in aerobatics, performed with the single-engine piston aircraft. A group of Russian aerobatic pilots, selected during the qualifying round in June, competed for the MAKS-2019 Cup. This competition was won by Dmitry Samokhvalov, the gold medallist of the European Championship 2019.

According to the organizer, during all six days of the event, MAKS-2019 was visited by 578,810 exhibitors and guests.