Russia won't shelve Sukhoi Superjet program

The incident with Russia's state-of-the-art Sukhoi Superjet-100 (SSJ 100) casts doubts on Russia's ambitious plans to enter the international market of aviation. According to experts' estimates, Russia pinned great hopes on the SSJ 100 project.

The plane went off radar screens yesterday in Indonesia during a demo flight. The fragments of the jetliner were soon found at the height of 5,200 feet on top of Mount Salak.

It was the first road show for a passenger jetliner in the history of the Russian aviation. The plane was supposed to visit six countries. On May 3rd, the jet took part in KADEX-2012 air show in Kazakhstan. On May 5, it visited Pakistan and then flew to Myanmar on May 7th. Afterwards, the plane was supposed to fly to Laos and then to Vietnam.

According to Russia's Ministry for Industry and Commerce, the cost of the Sukhoi Superjet program made up 34 billion rubles, which included 16 billion rubles of budget funds. Before 2029, Sukhoi intends to sell nearly 800 jetliners and take up to 15% of the international market of regional planes. The catalogue price of one SSJ-100 makes up $31.7 million.

Officials with the administration of the Russian president said that the department was ready to purchase the jets to transport high-ranking officials.

In the beginning of the current year, Sukhoi Superjet-100 received the EASA certificate, which gave the company an opportunity to enter the European market, RBC Daily said.

For the time being, the operators and customers of the new Russian plane refuse to discuss their actions in connection with the recent tragedy in Indonesia. SSJ started its commercial flights in 2011. The first aircraft was delivered to Armavia and then to Aeroflot. The latter currently operates six Superjets.

"We hope that the incident in Jakarta will not affect the orders for the Superjet. The jet that crashed in the mountains was registered with the Ministry for Industry and Commerce. Therefore, the investigation will be conducted into the experimental flight," an official close with the ministry said.

"No one is going to turn a blind eye on what happened, of course. However, as far as the sales are concerned, it will all depend on each and every customer," expert Aleksei Sinitsky said.

Boris Rybak, the head of Infomost consulting company, also believes that the crash of the new plane will not affect the sales of the new Russian plane. "There were incidents when new planes would crash during experimental flights or in the beginning of operation. The planes would then be spread widely. In addition, the SSJ program enjoys a serious political support, including in the field of sales. The sales do not depend directly on either commercial or technical characteristics of the plane," the expert said.

"The crash will definitely slow down the program - it will cause damage to its reputation. However, it's not going to stop the program. The Superjet will be sold on both the home market and overseas," Ruslan Pukhov, the director of the center for the analysis of strategies and technologies said.

Most experts say that the Asian companies that were only considering opportunities of buying the Superjet will make up their minds regarding contracts after the causes of the tragedy are exposed. 

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov