Latest Superjet schedule shows first flight next month

 - April 11, 2008, 11:47 AM

Russia’s Sukhoi expects its Superjet 100 regional jet to fly for the first time next month and likely not enter domestic airline service for at least another year, program officials told AIN this week. That puts the troubled program some six months behind the schedule Sukhoi published last fall. Paolo Revelli Beaumont, commercial senior vice president of Superjet International, the marketing partnership established with Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica, said Russian certification will occur by “mid-2009” and European Aviation Safety Agency approval would follow about another year after that, in mid-2010.

Asked at the European Regions Airline Association conference in Malta if program delays were frustrating export efforts, Revelli Beaumont conceded that it was a “very complicated” situation. “There is strong [Russian] government support, which is positive, but that can appear like government involvement in the project.”

He said that a “key” factor in stimulating export sales involved finding “a credible Western customer” willing to place an order for “tens” of Superjets from a major leasing company.

Meanwhile, Antoine Chereau, Snecma product manager for the Powerjet SaM146 engine under joint development with Russia’s NPO Saturn, told AIN that Snecma awaits a go-ahead to deliver the next pair of units to Sukhoi. After producing eight production-standard examples, it is building a further 10 “compliance” powerplants, the first two of which Sukhoi has fitted to the prototype now awaiting flight test.