Sukhoi SuperJet 100 ready for delivery this year

The first Sukhoi SuperJet 100 regional airliner will be delivered to Russia’s Aeroflot by December 2009, with the company already having orders for 98 of the aircraft.

Russia’s first modern regional airliner, the Sukhoi SuperJet 100, should finally reach launch customer, Aeroflot, at the end of this year.

It's a difficult time for makers of civil aircraft. Last week, Embraer, one of Sukhoi's main rivals on the market said it was laying off a quarter of its work force due to falling orders.

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft’s President claims the crisis has barely affected his plans.

The company has received massive government finance and is well into the certification programme for the SSJ, despite earlier delays, according to Viktor Subbotin, President of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft.

“We have already performed more than 110 test flights on two aircraft. In total we have to perform about 600 test flights. I'm sure we will be able to complete the programme and get certification by November 2009. And then start deliveries.”

SuperJet International, a joint venture between the Sukhoi Holding and Italy's Alenia Aeronautica opened an office in Moscow on Wednesday to handle marketing and post-sales support. That's traditionally been the Achilles heel of the Soviet and Russian aircraft industries, but Alessandro Franzoni, CEO of Superjet International believes a focus on costs will help the Superjet.

“We hope also that certain customers that must be anti-cyclical by definition, like, for instance, leasing companies, will concentrate their decision on the aircraft that can provide the best operational costs.”

Getting the Superjet certified and into production has been a major achievement for Sukhoi. But the real test of whether the aircraft can succeed will be how many orders it gets when the world economy recovers and airlines start looking for new regional airliners.