It's Not Business As Usual In Russia
So, it's probably not on anyone's speed dial but there are a few aviation companies who might consider dropping a dime on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to round out their business plans. They'll have to excuse her if she doesn't get back to them right away since she's trying to keep Russia and the U.S. from clipping each other about the ears over a dust-up between Georgia and a breakaway state known to its people as Abkhazia.
In case you haven't been following the news, the U.S. wants Russia to leave Georgia alone and Russia wants Georgia to leave Abkhazia alone and the whole thing came to a head because some Russian diplomat blew a tire and couldn't change it himself. As I write this the Russians have troops and tanks and guns in Georgia and despite some kind of agreement they're looking like they might hang around awhile and, if necessary, sink a few more ships. I wish I was making it up.
Then there's the Russian general who casually mentioned that Poland could become a parking lot for allowing U.S. missile defense systems within its borders. Makes you want to put your head between your knees.
With oil money (and God knows what else) fueling a boom in private aviation there, it's only natural that companies would seek opportunity in Russia. After all, Russia has seen the light and has free enterprise and all that oil money (and God knows what else).
So, the rooted-in-the-West companies like Cessna, Bombardier, Hawker Beechcraft etc. have been testing the market, finding some success there and expanding in the region to meet demand. Seems reasonable and rational. But there are a few companies whose future seems at least partially dependent on a neighborly exchange of goods and services as if all the nuke talk, the tanks and sunken ships were secondary to the ordained right of making money.
First, there's Epic Aviation. They hope to build their twin-jet Elite in Tblisi, the capital of Georgia. Well real estate prices are probably pretty low right now, especially compared to the costs the might have faced in Calgary, Alta., which, while it might have expensive dirt, has a remarkable absence of Russian tanks in the vicinity.
Then there's Eclipse. A Russian factory appears to be a major part of the plan to make the company profitable but maybe Roel Pieper, et. al. should investigate friction stir welded tanks instead. Seems to be a market...
The most confused aviation company executives on the planet may be at AAI Acquisitions in Denver. They're the Americans who run the Russian-backed company that took over Adam Aircraft for pennies on the dollar. There are some good people there and the A700 is a nice jet, but it'll be interesting to see if business trumps politics (and God knows what else).
Condi, if you have a minute...