Turkey nearing decision on regional jet production: Minister

Turkey nearing decision on regional jet production: Minister

ISTANBUL - Reuters
Turkey nearing decision on regional jet production: Minister

Transport Minister Lütfi Elvan inaugurated the 2014 Air Show in Istanbul. DHA Photo

Turkey’s plans to produce a regional passenger jet are nearing their final stages as talks continue with foreign plane makers, including U.S. aircraft giant Boeing, the Turkish transport minister said.

“We are continuing our studies for regional jet production,” Transportation, Maritime and Communication Minister Lütfi Elvan said during the opening speech of the 2014 Air Show, an aviation fair held in Istanbul on Sept. 25.

“We held a comprehensive meeting with our friends, particularly on business models and other processes, yesterday, and we will share more concrete results within a month,” Elvan added.

The minister announced during the meeting the government’s goal to manufacture the first Turkish regional jet by 2023.

Turkey’s efforts to build its own medium-range civilian aircraft began two years ago.

Last year, Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan said the government was planning to cooperate with an aircraft company to work on an existing platform, rather than build a new jet from scratch.

Elvan said authorities are holding talks with the 11 companies able to develop narrow-body aircrafts with capacities of 120 or fewer passengers.

Bernard J. Dunn, president of Boeing Turkey, recently said the company is open to the idea of potential cooperation on the production of a Turkish jet.

“Boeing doesn’t have anything regarding local plane production. This would primarily require technological capacity, and Turkey has this capacity. Such a plane’s entrance into the sector is very important. If you ask what Boeing would do, we need to review this issue with regards to our business perspective. However, no request has been made to use. We would think if it will,” Dunn said.

Commenting on these remarks, Elvan said Turkey is also open to cooperation but has several conditions that must be met.

“Our defense industry undersecretary and the CEOs of [Turkish defense companies] Havelsan and TAI will meet with sides. Our request regarding copyrights and other issues is clear: Producing our own plane. We will also have some prerequisites about local production, and I think we can cooperate if all these will be met,” he said.

Turkey particularly wants key components produced, platforms developed and production lines to take place in Turkey, Elvan said, adding that the government is not keen on “montage” suggestions.