MAKS 2009 – Международный Авиационно-Космический Салон  

 MAKS 2009 – DAY 1

The 2009 edition of the International Aviation and Space Salon, better known under the acronym MAKS, derived from the Russian name Международный Авиационно-Космический Салон, was officially opened on August 18th by Vladimir Putin and Sergej Ivanov, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation.


Prime Minister of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin (2nd from left) and Deputy Prime Minister Sergej Ivanov (1st from left) are seen here while visiting different pavilions during the opening day of MAKS 2009.

The opening day of MAKS has always been renowned for its unique flypasts and aircraft displays performed in honour of the high ranking officials inaugurating the Salon. Like all countries, however, Russia has been hit hard by last year’s financial crisis and austerity measures are of the order of the day at Zhukovsky like they also were at Le Bourget. All aircraft with a commercial potential, however, were displayed, albeit somewhat shorter than usually. The reduction could be most felt in the number and size of the flypasts by in-service military aircraft, symbolising Russia’s military power.


A mixed formation of Russian aircraft with economic potential, from left to right: Mikoyan MiG-29M-OVT, Sukhoi Su-30MKI, Sukhoi Superjet 100, Sukhoi Su-35 and Mikoyan MiG-35D.

Most missed on the opening day was the aerobatic team The Russian Knights (Русские Витязи), which lost its leader and two aircraft following a mid-air collision during a practice flight over Zhukovsky on Sunday August 16th. Colonel Igor Tkachenko, commander of The Russian Knights, was killed when the cockpit of his two-seat Su-27UB “18 Blue” was hit from above by Su-27 “14 Blue”. The second occupant of the Su-27B, Colonel Igor Kurilenko, as well as the pilot of the Su-27, Lieutenant-colonel Vitaly Melnik, bailed out successfully, but sustained light to moderate injuries. “14 Blue” crashed in an open field near the village of Verkhnee Velino (Верхнее Велино), some 12 kilometres south-east of Zhukovky airfield. “18 Blue” came down in a small village called Boyarkino (Бояркино), around 16 kilometres to the east almost in the axis of Zhukovky’s main runway, hitting a number of summerhouses and injuring five people.


The Russian Knights operate from Kubinka Air Base, around 60 kilometres west of Moscow, where they are part of the 237th Aircraft Demonstration Centre named after Air Force Marshal Ivan Kozhedub, a World War II fighter ace and Hero of the Soviet Union. The team was formed on April 5th, 1991, and flies four Su-27 single seat aircraft and two Su-27UB two-seaters. It regularly performed in the West, also in Belgium, where it took part in the July 1994 Ostend Air Show. The Swifts (Стрижи), flying MiG-29s, are part of the same unit and are also based at Kubinka. The presentation of the Russian Knights and the Swifts is unique in the world in that they partly fly alone and partly perform with both teams together in a single formation.



 Belgian aerospace industry participates for the third time in MAKS. In 2005, the sole attendant was BARCO, which already then had established contacts in Russia and had a sales representative in Moscow. During the 2007 edition, Flemish Aerospace was prominently present with 17 companies, professional associations and public services. The aims of the numerous small and middle-sized Flemish aerospace companies were to show what they could offer Russian aerospace industry, to explore the Russian market and to express their willingness to collaborate with Russian companies according to the highly successful BARCO-model. This year, Belgian Aerospace participates in MAKS with 16 companies, professional associations and public services from Flanders as well as from Wallonia and Brussels. The highly successful formula of 2007 seemed so attractive that even three Dutch companies (AkzoNobel, Avio-Diepen and the NCIM Groep), joined the Belgian initiative.


In 2005, BARCO was the first Belgian aerospace company that participated in MAKS.

“The role of the public services Flanders Investment & Trade and Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency (Agence Wallone à l’Exportation - AWEX), and especially of the personnel of their respective Moscow offices, in the realisation of this year’s Belgian pavilion was of immeasurable value”, said Karel Vervoort of FLAG during the opening day of MAKS 2009.




ASCO Industries




Belgian Flight Group (BFG)


BEN-AIR Flight Academy (BAFA)


FN Herstal


HSH Aerospace Finishes


LMS International


NUMECA International - NUMFLO


Sabena Flight Academy (SFA)






Van Asbrouck Recruitment



AkzoNobel Aerospace Coatings




NCIM Groep



Belgian Aerospace / Flemish Aerospace Group (FLAG)


Belgian Aerospace / Skywin Wallonia



Flanders Investment & Trade (FIT)


Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency (AWEX)



 When World War II ended, the Belgian aerospace industry was in ruins like in many other European countries. Numerous car and aircraft manufacturing companies disappeared forever in those post-war years. The European Recovery Plan of US Minister of Foreign Affairs George C. Marshall helped filling up the vacuum that was arisen by assisting traditional industries in their struggle to recover, a struggle they had initiated immediately after the war.


The European aerospace sector, however, took longer to re-establish. With the advent of NATO and the Warsaw Pact, the beginning of the Cold War and the breaking out of the Korean War, many Western European armies and air forces were equipping mostly with military systems co-financed by the USA under the Mutual Defence Assistance Program (MDAP). This US gesture did retard even more the resurrection of a true indigenous European aerospace industry. Moreover, the European nations tried for years to redevelop their national aerospace industries on a national basis, with numerous failures and setbacks. France and the United Kingdom then decided to make a quantum leap forward in developing the first supersonic airliner, Concorde. Although commercially not viable, Concorde was a gigantic technological success.

 The same phenomenon happened in space industry, where European nations at first tried to re-establish themselves individually, but again failed. It was only after pulling together all European resources and with the advent of Airbus, ESA and Ariane that a more and more economically united Europe regained some of the terrain lost during World War II. The success of Airbus led to a breakthrough in the late 1990s, and finally, in the year 2003, Airbus and Europe sold more airliners than Boeing and the USA.

 In the field of military aircraft, some European nations tried very hard individually to catch up with the USA, but failed once more. Their decision to unite resources to built an own line of combat aircraft, military airlifters, tankers, AWACS, surveillance planes and UAVs comparable to those of the latest generations in the USA came too late too. Eventually, the decision to built the first real European military airlifter, the Future Large Aircraft (FLA) that later on became the Airbus Military A-400M, created the potential of breaking the US military airlifter monopoly for the first time after WWII and of stopping the legendary C-130 Hercules from going on forever. The European tanker developed from the highly successful A-330 airliner into the A-330 Multi-Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) was met with success too when it won the USAF tanker competition in 2008. However, combat aircraft, AWACS’s and UAVs are domains in which Europe still fails to become competitive with the US and Israel.

 Smaller nations like Belgium were forced to recover even slower after the Second World War. It was only by assembling, building-to-print, co-producing, licence-producing, and maintaining, repairing and overhauling the aircraft of their air force, that they slowly built-up the necessary capabilities enabling them to associate today with programmes like Airbus and ESA.

 As long as Belgium was a Unitarian State, there was a non-written national industrial policy after World War II to establish the aerospace and defence industries in Wallonia and Brussels, while shipbuilding and telecommunications would be developed in Flanders. This situation ceased to exist with the Belgian State Reform of 1980, when the Communities and Regions started to develop their own cultural and economic policies.

 The Flemish Aerospace Group (FLAG) was established in this context in December 1980 with the aim of using foreign offset obligations in the framework of large aerospace orders to create or expand new aerospace technology niches, products and services in Flanders and of pushing for innovative studies and projects to prepare Flanders’ aerospace in the role of supplier to forthcoming major international aircraft building programmes. By aiming at becoming a supplier for "a hundred items to each and every aircraft" built in the world, FLAG created a unique industrial niche complementary, rather than competitive to the strong traditional aerospace industry in Wallonia.

 In 2006, the Walloon aerospace industry established its own professional association Skywin Wallonie.

 FLAG and Skywin Wallonie are nowadays the two partners forming Belgian Aerospace.


Investing in aerospace during crisis is like walking in the rain: after a storm comes a calm, and then, at the rainbow’s end, you might as well find diamonds...


MAKS 2009 – DAY 2


After the official opening on August 18th, business took off for real today at MAKS 2009. “Business” does not mean concluding million dollar/euro contracts, but networking with potential customers and prospecting new market opportunities. After all, announcing new contracts at Farnborough, Le Bourget or Zhukosvky only gives some extra publicity to deals negotiated and signed long before. Being present at MAKS also is a token of confirmation to established Russian customers that a company is a reliable business partner, who is always there when needed.



TCR is a Belgian company offering ground support equipment to airlines, handling companies and cargo handlers. In 1999, TCR launched the innovative idea to rent ground support equipment (GSE) to its customers instead of selling it and now has a fleet of over 6,000 pieces of equipment available. The company is based in Steenokkerzeel and has local offices in Amsterdam, London, Madrid and Paris. It employs a staff of around 300 at more than 120 different locations in Europe and the United States. Among TCR’s major customers are airlines like KLM, Vueling and Iberia; handling companies like Aviapartner and Flightcare and cargo handlers like DHL.

TCR does not simply deliver rented GSE, but starts with advising its customers about their exact GSE needs. It subsequently provides a tailor made service plan, as well as preventive maintenance and repair for all equipment. TCR also offers a fleet management service, which gives customers valuable information about how they can improve or optimise their operations. Finally, TCR can manage as a third party a common pool of GSE shared by different operators, giving them access to a larger fleet of equipment at lower costs.

At the end of a rental agreement, TCR takes back all GSE and rents it again after refurbishment or offers it for sale on the second hand market. Russia has a potential as such a second hand market. Through its representative in Prague, Czech Republic, TCR has already sold second hand GSE to a small number of customers in Russia like Moscow-Sheremetyevo airport and Yekaterinburg airport. “TCR came to MAKS to further explore the opportunities this large market has to offer”, said Czech TCR project manager Josef Machek.


Almost no aircraft can operate without ground support equipment like crew stairs and tow bars.


LMS is an engineering innovation partner for companies in the automotive, aerospace and other advanced manufacturing industries. With its unique combination of simulation software, testing systems and engineering services, LMS focuses on testing areas like systems dynamics, structural integrity and sound quality as well as durability, safety and energy consumption.

LMS was established in 1980 as a spinoff of the KULeuven. It soon expanded and moved to the Haasrode industrial estate in 1985. It nowadays employs a 900-strong staff in 35 locations, 8 of which are development centres. LMS is present in virtually all important industrialised countries in Europe, America and Asia. The company has an annual turnover of 120 million euro.

LMS is present in Russia since 2000 and now has 9 representative offices in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg and Sarov. The Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute TsAGI (Центральный Аэро Гидродинамический Институт – ЦАГИ), the Central Institute of Aviation Motors TsIAM (Центральный Институт Авиационного Моторостроения – ЦИАМ) and engine manufacturer NPO Saturn (НПО Сатурн) are only a few of the Russian partners of LMS using its simulation software, testing systems and engineering services.    

“As LMS is already a market leader in its field, its presence at MAKS aims less at exploring new markets – although there are always new contacts – than at reassuring its established Russian partners that the Belgian company is a reliable partner in business, always there when needed”, said LMS Executive Vice-President & Chief Technology Officer Jan Leuridan at MAKS 2009.


The link between Belgium and the Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 is that simulation software and testing systems of LMS Engineering Innovation have been used during the test and development phase of the aircraft’s PowerJet SaM146 turbofan engine. PowerJet was created in July 2004 and is a 50-50 joint venture of Snecma (France) and NPO Saturn (Russia).


MAKS 2009 – DAY 3


Today was “Belgian Day” at MAKS, or better “Russian-Belgian Day”. During the afternoon, Guy Trouveroy, the new Belgian Ambassador to Moscow, visited the Belgian Aerospace stand at MAKS on its first official mission and had extensive conversations with representatives of the participating aerospace companies, professional associations and public services. In the evening, an official reception was held in the prestigious House of Scientists TsAGI (Дом Учёных ЦАГИ). The attendance of Sergei Chernyshev, Director of TsAGI, is a token of the mutual respect between Russians and Belgians and of the splendid relationship between Russian and Belgian aerospace industries.


During his afternoon visit to the Belgian stand at MAKS, Ambassador Guy Trouveroy (right) had lengthy talks with industry representatives about the perspectives for Belgian aerospace industry in Russia. He is seen here with Karel Vervoort of the Flemish Aerospace Group.


The presence of TsAGI’s Director Sergei Chernyshev (left) at the Belgian Day reception in the House of Scientists TsAGI symbolises the good relationship between Russian and Belgian aerospace industries.


 In his occasional speech, Guy Putman of the Flemish Aerospace Group emphasised that the cooperation agreement signed in November 2008 between the Moscow Region and Flanders offers great opportunities for both regions. He also thanked Flanders Investment & Trade and the Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency for the tremendous support they gave to the Belgian aerospace industry in the past few years to further develop their contacts and opportunities in Russia.


 Skywin’s Ashley Lyon underlined that the niche activities and the recent infrastructure investments of the Walloon aerospace industry open numerous possibilities for collaboration between Russia and Belgium. He too underlined the valuable help the aerospace industry received from FIT and AWEX to expand its cooperation with Russia.


MAKS 2009 – DAY 4


The fourth day of MAKS is already the first of three days open to the public. Although the weather was cold and grey, the attendance was large and the admiration for the aircraft and pilots was great. Especially when Russian aircraft performed, thunderous applause and loud hurrahs reverberated regularly. However, when the Frecce Tricolori and the Patrouille de France took over the sky, the ahs of admiration were countless too.


Real business for the aerospace companies ended yesterday. Here and there, an odd stand was already emptied and closed, but most exhibitors remained at their post, albeit in general with a somewhat reduced complement. Not only Russian business partners deserve respect, but also the general public and the Belgians were happy to return the respect today that they received yesterday on the occasion of the “Belgian Day”. This mutual respect can only intensify the good relationships that have been built between Russians and Belgians in the past years and days.



 At MAKS 2009, there was only one Belgian company which was not housed in the Belgian Aerospace stand: SABENA Technics. Founded in 1968 as the industrial branch of the now defunct SABENA, it was taken over by the French TAT Group in 2005. Because of its excellent reputation in airframe maintenance and repair, TAT Group decided in 2006 to retain the strong brand of SABENA Technics. That’s how a “Belgian” company was housed with a “foreign” group at MAKS 2009.

Under the brands SABENA Technics, SABENA Technics Training and Barfield in the USA, the group employs over 3,000 persons at 15 locations worldwide, 900 of which in Belgium. The group’s main activities are airframe maintenance and modification, maintenance training and component services, for the civil as well as for the military market. SABENA Technics already serves companies like Aeroflot Nord, Gazprom, Moscow Sky, S7 and UTAir in Russia and Dnepr Avia in the Ukraine. It will also provide maintenance for the Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft of ARMAVIA, the national carrier of Armenia and launch customer of the type.

SABENA Technics is at present involved in the start-up of the first Russian low-cost airline Avianova (Авианова). The new airline has at present two Airbus A320 aircraft and will make its first commercial flight on 27 August 2009, when it will link Moscow with Sochi, a famous Russian winter and summer holiday resort. Connections with Rostov-on-Don, Krasnodar and Samara too will start late August or early September. The company plans to expand its fleet to 50 Airbus A320s within five years. SABENA Technics will do the maintenance and repair work for this fleet and will therefore open a SABENA Technics Moscow branch at Vnukovo airport by the end of this year. It will be a win-win-situation for both SABENA Technics and Russia as the Moscow branch will employ a workforce that will consist of 50% local maintenance personnel. Training of the local maintenance personnel and repair work, on the other hand, will be done at the Brussels and Bordeaux facilities, generating work in Belgium and France.

 “Low-cost flying is new in Russia and our implication in the start-up of Avianova can open additional opportunities along our already established activities on the large Russian market”, said Marc Hallaert, Vice President Sales of SABENA Technics at MAKS 2009.

Sabena Technics

Marc Hallaert (left) and his team at the SABENA Technics – TAT Group stand at MAKS 2009.



The Baltic Bees are a new aerobatic team flying a number of beautifully painted Let L-39C training aircraft. Two of its aircraft participated in the static show and in the flying programme of MAKS 2009 to promote the team for the 2010 air show season. At MAKS, the aircraft were flown by Russian pilots because of local flying restrictions.

The Baltic Bees were formed in 2008 by K.S. Avia, a Riga based company active in the field of aircraft spare parts distribution as well as air charter and air taxi services. The team is based at Tukums airport in Latvia and has at present five Let-39C aircraft (YL-KSH, KSL, KSM, KSS and KST). It is planned to expand the team to 9 aircraft by late 2009. The Baltic Bees flew their first display on 26 July 2009 with four aircraft. The first public appearance took place during the Tukums Air Show on 1 August 2009.

All aircraft were demilitarised and refurbished before being painted in a very attractive and conspicuous colour scheme, representing a bee. The paint is metallic, giving nice effects in bright sunlight. The bee was chosen as name and as theme for the colour scheme, because it is a beautiful insect, which is in the Baltic States considered as a happy animal, hence the smiling mouth under the front fuselage.

Baltic Bees

The two Baltic Bees that participated in MAKS 2009 were 1/YL-KSH (c/n 934632) and 3/YL-KSS (c/n 934646).


MAKS 2009 – DAY 5


The second public day of MAKS, the first day of the weekend and the announced better weather made it that an overwhelming number of Muscovites and other Russians would visit Zhukovsky today. From Komsomolskaya metro station (Комсомoльская), the nearest to Kazanski railway station (Казанский вокзал) from which the local trains to Zhukovsky leave, it was clear that the public services had prepared everything to channel the tens of thousands of travellers as smoothly as possible to their destination. One of the halls of the railway station was transformed into a gigantic ticket office where only tickets for trains to MAKS could be bought for a mere 140 or 240 roubles depending on your choice for a retour with a rapid or an omnibus train. This measure reduced the waiting time for a ticket to almost nihil around 8 a.m. A considerable number of policemen saw to it that the people rapidly and safely found their way to the numerous extra trains. At the other end of the trip, in Otdikh railway station (Отдых вокзал), the usual ticket control at the exit of the station was skipped in order to speed up the flow of people. Before being allowed into one of the tens of busses waiting to bring the visitors from the station to the airfield, a first security control took place by searching superficially bags and rucksacks. Waiting time for the buses did not exceed two to three minutes. Traffic went smooth, as only busses, VIP cars and emergency vehicles were allowed on the access roads to the airfield. There followed a lengthy security check – checking entry tickets, X-raying luggage and searching bodies with a metal detector – which led to a delay from 20 to 30 minutes at 9 a.m. Everything, however, happened quietly and well disciplined.



 In contrast with for example the United States and Russia, and even France, Germany and the United Kingdom, the Belgian economy is not built up around a small number of large-sized multinational concerns, but around a large number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SME). In general, their strength lies in their niche activities where competition is less fierce because of the extreme specialisation.



 HSH Aerospace Finishes, established over 20 years ago, is such a niche SME. The worldwide 24 employees of the Zellik based company manufacture and distribute a complete range of non-toxic, waterborne, fire retardant, fast drying, scratch resistant and easy to clean products for aircraft interiors: primers, fillers, topcoats, sealers and cleaners for ceilings, sidewall panels, seats and tables, trolleys and exit doors. These are all innovative and environment-friendly niche products, which are sold under the brand name Interplan. HSH’s customers are aircraft manufactures like Embraer and airlines like Iberia, Finair and Egypt Air. In Russia, HSH is Tupolev’s supplier for interior coating systems through a German distributor.

Apart from its basic product range, HSH developed a number of exciting, innovative products in cooperation with large international players. With SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation), HSH produced an elastic, thermo formable paint which can be sprayed onto polycarbonate products before shaping them into three-dimensional items with evenly coated flat surfaces, folds and corners. Airbus was a partner in launching a production process avoiding the need to fill pinholes after manufacturing of composites. The solution to this problem was as simple as innovative by adding the coatings to the different components of the composites before manufacturing (in-mould coatings). Finally, Boeing approved a superior coating for leather developed by HSH, which allows reducing maintenance time of old leather.

 “HSH is for the second time present at MAKS with the aim to see whether it is feasible to proceed further on the Russian market after the Tupolev success”, declared Reinder Statema at MAKS 2009.

Tupolev 334

Tupolev is the launch customer for HSH aircraft interior coatings in Russia. The Tupolev Tu-334 is a short to medium range airliner foreseen to replace the ageing Tupolev Tu-134s and Yakovlev Yak-42s. Its development and certification have been delayed many times for various reasons.



 Although at first glance recruitment is not at all a niche activity, recruitment of engineers with a very specific technical profile is it most certainly. Van Asbrouck Recruitment is an independent consultancy office specialised in international technical, scientific and medical recruitment. It was established in 1989 and has its headquarters in Loonbeek. The consultancy office is an SME with five permanently engaged employees based in Belgium and 25 free-lance collaborators. Of the latter, 80% work in Central Europe and the remainder in Belgium.

 Common customers of Van Asbrouck Recruitment are Belgian SMEs that do not find the “white raven” they are searching for, Belgian SMEs with a branch abroad and foreign multinational companies based in Belgium. Following the growing demand of Belgian companies opening new branches in Eastern Europe, Van Asbrouck Recruitment established an office in Sofia, Bulgaria, in 1997 with support of Flanders Investment & Trade. The free-lance collaborators abroad do the preparative work when a vacancy has to be filled in, but it is the Belgian staff that interviews the candidates according to the same criteria as in Belgium.

 Van Asbrouck Recruitment has long-established experience in the building sector and in the oil and gas business, and recently became active in the aerospace sector with consultancy missions for two major aerospace companies with headquarters in Israel and the USA and branches in Belgium. “With MAKS 2009, we want to find out whether there are prospects for our company to extend our experience in the Russian building sector to the aerospace sector”, announced Mark Billen in Zhukovsky.


The Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (Центральный Аэрогидродинамический Инститнт – ЦАГИ (TsAGI)) in Moscow is a research centre were large numbers of engineers with a specific technical profile are working. The good relations developed by FLAG with TsAGI over the past years can help Van Asbrouck Recruitment in prospecting this market.  


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 © Jos Schoofs with thanks to FLAG (August 2009)


Last updated 26/08/09 07:51   Daniel Brackx