Westinghouse unit to help upgrade Russian air traffic control Linthicum group in $10 billion project

March 27, 1993|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

Russia has signed an agreement with an international group of companies, including a local unit of the Westinghouse Electric Corp., to begin work on an estimated $10 billion program to modernize that country's air traffic control system.

Westinghouse is the only U.S. member of the consortium, which includes Thomson-CSF, the world's second-largest electronics company, and JVC Buran, a joint venture of Russian industry groups with Alenia, a leading Italian radar manufacturer.

While the three companies have rarely teamed on projects, they are hardly strangers. Bryan Wiggans, a spokesman for Westinghouse, described Thomson and Alenia as well-known to the Linthicum division as its major competitors in the air traffic control market.

"This is a project," he added, "where three major competitors come together to help Russia. It's a massive project, and work is expected to last 10 to 15 years."

The agreement was signed Thursday in Moscow by the Russian Federation's Ministry of Transport and its Defense Industrial Committee. There was no mention yesterday what impact, if any, the current political instability in Russia might have on the project.

Russia has asked the consortium to submit a plan within 60 days to modernize the Moscow air traffic management center at Sheremetjevo Airport.

As of now, the Westinghouse Electronic Systems Group in Linthicum has signed no contracts to supply equipment, but as part of the group, company officials were optimistic it would get a share of the business.

As work proceeds, Westinghouse sees itself supplying radar, computer software, hardware and communications equipment.

"Over time, this will be a substantial project in terms of revenues of Westinghouse," said Robert Gorrie, who works in Linthicum as marketing manager on the project.

The agreement with the consortium stipulates that 60 percent of the work will be handled by Russian companies.

Jack Tymann, who represented Westinghouse in the signing ceremony in Moscow, said that, while other republics of the former Soviet Union were not a part of the agreement, they were expected to participate eventually.

In the early stages of the work, Russia is looking to the West, including the United States, France and Italy, for loans to help finance the program. For the longer term, the program would be helped by fees that airlines would pay to fly through Russian airspace.

Robert Harper, a spokesman for Delta Airlines, said that the carrier pays the Russian government $53 for each kilometer one of its jumbo jets flies in its airspace.

The upgrade of the Russian air traffic control system would feature satellite and ground-based radar to guide planes and telecommunication systems that would link traffic control centers throughout the country.

By flying over the former Soviet Union, as opposed to the current Mediterranean route, a flight from New York to Tokyo would be about 30 percent shorter.

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