Why Turkey buys planes and does not produce them – columnist

In his latest visits to the U.S. and France, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed deals for the purchase of passenger planes for Turkish Airlines.

This signifies Turkey’s dependence on foreign technologies, Soner Yalçın, a columnist for the secularist Sözcü newspaper wrote.

During Erdoğan’s last visit to Washington D.C., where he met with U.S. President Donald Trump, Turkey signed a $11 billion deal with Boeing for the purchase of 40 airplanes.

And on Erdoğan’s last visit to Paris, where he met with French President Emmanuel Macron, Turkey signed a $7.5 billion deal with Airbus for the purchase of 25 airplanes.

But at its beginnings, modern Turkey was closer to producing its own planes than it is now, Yalçın says.

In 1925 Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Turkish Republic, set a plan for the Turkish airplane industry, Yalçın said, by sending students to Europe for technical education and establishing airplane factories, first in central Anatolian province of Kayseri, and later a second in capital Ankara.

Private entrepreneurs, such as Vecihi Hürküş (his adopted surname translates as “Free Bird”) and Selahattin Alan also followed suit, starting flights between Ankara, Istanbul and Athens in Greece.

Between 1926 and 1941, Turkey produced 212 planes, with all their parts locally produced, including the engines.

But after the Second World War, Turkey became a part of United States’ raw material sources, Yalçın wrote. Instead of producing planes, Turkey tripled its chromium exports to the U.S.

This was the result of drifting away from Atatürk’s path for independence, Yalçın concluded.