Sukhoi rolls out Russia’s bid to compete on world stage

 - November 5, 2007, 10:00 AM

The aerospace world got its first close look at the Sukhoi Superjet 100 when Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company staged a rollout ceremony on September 26 outside its final assembly plant in the Siberian city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. Witnessed by “many hundreds” of company officials and employees, government dignitaries and media, the rollout ended a six-and-a-half-year wait for the first public display of a completed airframe since Sukhoi, Ilyushin and Boeing launched feasibility studies on the project, then known as the Russian Regional Jet. Sukhoi expects the 95-seat regional jet to fly next month, in time for planned first delivery to launch customer Aeroflot by November next year.

Meanwhile, static tests continue on the second prototype in Zhukovsky at the TsAGI state aerodynamics research center, as do systems tests and integration work on various suppliers’ test benches and Sukhoi’s “electronic bird” in Moscow. Plans call for the certification program to use six airframes, four of which will participate in flight testing. Sukhoi plans to build nine of the airplanes in all next year, followed by 30 in 2009, 60 in 2010 and 70 in 2011.

“[The] Superjet 100 is a child of thousands of people around the globe, committed to the project’s success with their hearts and souls,” said Sukhoi Company CEO Mikhail Pogosyan in Komsomolsk. “It took us all six-and-a-half years to get here, overcoming skepticism and finding our way in translation of international rules of play to Russian aerospace industry and incorporating in it world industry standards.”

In fact, major parts and systems contributions involve no fewer than 10 Western companies, most notably engine supplier Snecma, whose joint venture with Russia’s NPO Saturn known as PowerJet developed the airplane’s SaM146 turbofans, and Italy’s Finmeccanica, whose Alenia subsidiary took a controlling stake (51 percent) in a joint venture with Sukhoi Civil Aircraft known as Superjet International.
Finmeccanica, meanwhile, will own 25 percent, plus one share, of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft once it meets all the financial terms of a deal closed with Sukhoi earlier this year.

Superjet International opened its headquarters this past September in Venice, Italy. The company’s mission centers on the sale of Superjet 100s in Europe, North and South America, Africa, Oceania and Japan, as well as customizing the airplane for the Western operators and providing worldwide after-sales support. The company will also design and develop any VIP and cargo versions the partners decide to launch. Sukhoi Civil Aircraft retains responsibility for sales in Russia and the CIS, China, India, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Along with Aeroflot’s commitment for 30 airplanes, Sukhoi has collected firm orders for 15 Superjets from the AiRUnion alliance led by Krasnoyarsk Airlines, 10 from Russia’s Finance Leasing Company and six from Dalavia Far East Airways. The program secured its first Western customer during June’s Paris Air Show, when Italy’s ItAli Airlines signed for 10. As of press time the program’s most recent sale involved Armenia’s Armavia Air Company, which expects delivery of the first of two airplanes on order soon after Aeroflot takes its first example, by the end of next year.