The blizzard of order activity at this year’s Paris Air Show might have obscured a highly significant signing in the regional jet arena for one of the stars of the salon’s flying display.
For years Superjet International struggled to sign a legitimate customer from its home country–until last week, when Italy’s Blue Panorama Airlines agreed to become the Western European launch operator for the Sukhoi Superjet 100. Based in Fiumicino, Italy, Blue Panorama signed a memorandum of understanding covering 12 SSJ100-95s worth a potential $370 million. Plans call for deliveries to start at the end of next year.
Venice, Italy-based Superjet International expects to support the Blue Panorama SSJ100 fleet, as it does for launch customer Armavia under a new program unveiled at Paris called SuperCare. Under the terms of that $4 million deal, SuperJet International will provide the Armenian carrier with spares support and maintenance/repair of on-board equipment for an initial period of six years.
The first Sukhoi Superjet 100 entered into revenue services with Armavia on April 21, just two days after delivery. On June 16, the SSJ100 flew its first revenue flight with Aeroflot from Moscow to St. Petersburg.
During the first two months of operation, the SSJ100 flew 268 hours during 119 flights, logging a dispatch reliability rate of 98 percent.
Plans call for the Superjet 100 to welcome a new larger sibling, possibly one as large as 130 seats in capacity, but not until the original SSJ100-95 loses some weight for Aeroflot and gains some range for Latin American launch customer Interjet of Mexico. Specifically, it needs to shed some 1,750 pounds, a United Aircraft Corp. (UAC) official said following a roundtable luncheon hosted by UAC president Mikhail Pogosyan. Meanwhile, Interjet’s planned hot-and-high operations will require somewhat more than the standard range of 1,645 nm the airplane now offers.
Directly from the show, the SSJ100 flew to Toulouse for EASA trials, then it's bound for Dubai for hot-weather testing, followed by Mexico for high-altitude work. The company hopes to gain EASA certification by the end of the year and deliver Interjet’s first of 15 airplanes on firm order some time next year.