DUBAI, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Russia has initiated preliminary talks with the United Arab Emirates for joint production of a civil aircraft in the Gulf state, the head of Russia's state-owned defence company said on Sunday.
The aircraft would be based on Russia's new single aisle twin passenger jet, the MC 21-400, and would compete with similar jets from Boeing and Airbus.
"A working group will be created to discuss it further. The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi expressed his desire to start production of the MC 21-400," Rostec's CEO Sergei Chemezov told Reuters in an interview at the Dubai Air Show.
Chemezov said he met Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, on Sunday and discussed the joint production of the passenger jet and other areas of cooperation.
Several Middle Eastern countries have shown interest in the passenger jet but no specific contracts have been signed yet, he said.
"The Middle East North Africa region is important for us, accounting for around 48 percent of our total sales, both civil and military, Chemezov said.
Russia rolled out its single-aisle twin passenger jet, the MC 21-300, in 2016 with its first flight in May 2017. It is expected to start flying passengers in 2019 after completing testing.
There are three variants in the MC jets MC 21-200, MC 21-300 and MC 21-400. They are produced by Russias Irkut Corporation with a maximum capacity of 165 passengers. In February, during the defence expo in Abu Dhabi, Chemezov announced that Russia had initiated talks with the UAE to co-develop a new generation fighter jet. (Editing by Susan Fenton)