Right up there
The Russian government plans to support the development of Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional jet with another portion of subsidies from the state budget. So far the new aircraft that is in the stage of the certification trials was backed by government guarantees and loans from the state-owned banks. Now the Ministry of Industry and Trade suggests to allocate additional 3.6 billion rubles ($124 million) for Superjet 100 certification in 2009-2010 through amendment of the federal program for development of Russia’s commercial aircraft through 2015.
The Ministry’s report states that the additional funding will not require increasing the overall budget and will be allocated through redistribution of the expenditures within the federal program. As the Ministry’s representatives explained to the Russia & CIS Observer, this year the program’s expenditures were cut down by 15% while the saved 2,258 million rubles have been re-directed for the Superjet 100 program. In 2010 the increase of funding for the development of the new regional jet is to be achieved through the reduction of the government investments into the R&D and the reduction of the budget expenditures for marketing and certification of other Russia’s future aircraft – MS-21 narrowbody airliner, being developed by Irkut Corporation. As a result the Superjet 100 is to get another 1,342 million rubles.
The Ministry explains that additional funding is needed to help the designers from Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) to overcome the financial difficulties caused by the economic crisis. Another goal is to increase the Superjet 100 competitive advantages over the foreign counterparts, especially the Chinese ARJ-21 regional jet. The Ministry’s effort means that Superjet 100 program remains a top priority for the Russian government that is ready to support the new regional jet even at the expense of other projects.
Nevertheless the development of the Superjet 100 is being delayed – under earlier plans the first aircraft should be handed over to the customers at the end of this year. Now the three prototypes are passing intensive certification trials. According to SCAC, as of October 31 they all logged 454 flights with a total time of more than 1200 hours. In October the aircraft completed the high altitude flight tests in the mountains of Armenia. The trials included continued take-offs as well as OEI missed approach flights. The majority of the take-offs were performed with one engine failure imitation at maximum take-off weight.
Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica that officially purchased 25% plus 1 share stake in SCAC earlier this year will be responsible for the EASA certification. It will conduct some of the trials in Italy, including community noise, ILS, R-NAV and high-intensity radiated field tests.
One of the first customers – Armenian Armavia airlines confessed in October that the delivery is slipped from December 2009 to spring 2010. In November Sukhoi CEO Mikhail Pogosyan also admitted that there would be no deliveries in 2009. Under earlier plans the aircraft’s launch customer – Russia’s largest carrier Aeroflot should have received the first out of 30 ordered jets by the end of the year. According to Pogosyan, in 2010 SCAC plans to start deliveries to the Italian air carrier ItAli that placed an order for 10 Superjet 100s in 2007. As for now Sukhoi’s order backlog for the new regional jet amounts to 122 aircraft.
Pogosyan told about the plan to supplement the Superjet 100 family now consisting of 75 and 95 seat modifications with a stretched 115-seat version. SCAC representatives explained that the 130-seat variant is also being discussed at the moment. The decision to move forward with the development of the stretched variants might be taken by the end of 2009, suggested the source in the Russian aircraft industry. Another discussed development is VIP version based on 95-seat variant that will have an interior designed by Italian Pininfarina.