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Picture: Sukhoi's Superjet will be stretched - to the limits of Boing.
Thursday, 08.12.2011

Sukhois Superjet to compete with Boeing

Moscow. Russian aircraft manufacturers to expand their promising project Sukhoi Superjet: A stretched version of the plane with 130 seats is in the planning stage. However, Boeing cannot be used as a helping hand.

To date, only four Sukhoi Superjets 100 have been delivered to customers, one to Armenia's Armavia and three to Aeroflot. Incidentally, three days ago, Aeroflot with a flight to Oslo, flew the plane to its first international destination.

The regional airplane, designed with international involvement, has been received positively in the market: The manufacturer GSS (Sukhoi Civil Aircraft) has 170 firm orders in the pipeline. So far, the SSJ 100 is being offered in two versions with 75 or 95 seats.

More than a stretch: Big Brother SSJ in the planning stage

Now, the family is set for significant growth: a stretched version with 130 seats is being planned, reported “Kommersant” today. Theoretically, GSS has been planning a SSJ-NG (new generation) of this size, since 2009.

The practically new aircraft, however, needs in principle a new producer, according to an informant of the Russian state aircraft holding company OAK. The problem lies in a clause that Boeing insisted upon when it signed a contract as consultant for design, marketing, certification, sales and service to the ambitious SSJ project.

With more than 130 seats it is moving into the terrain of Airbus and Boeing

The planes in the SSJ series are not allowed to exceed 129 seats. With maximum seat capacity of 132 starts Boeing's smallest version, the B 737-600.

The A318, the European competition by Airbus, starts with the same seat threshold. So far, the Superjet competes only with manufacturers of more compact aircraft like Embraer or Canadair.

Italian participation is expected to grow

Therefore, OAK is currently in negotiations with the Italian aerospace company Finmecanica on key features of both the new aircraft as well as future production, according to the newspaper. The Finmeccanica subsidiary Alenia holds a stake of 25 percent in GSS since 2007.

In the new parent company for SSJ-NG, the Italiens are to take on 49 percent, according to OAK. This would most likely mean that Alenia would take on part of the production. The Superjets are currently produces in the far-eastern Komsomolsk-on-Amur. In order to increase the capacity, the interior design of the cabin is soon to be moved to Aviastar in Uljanovsk.

The costs of the new project are estimated at approximately $500 million for each partner. In principle, Finmeccanica is positive towards this, explained the new CEO, Guiseppe Orsi, in a recent interview as his cooperation is ready to get rid of Aktiva, which is not in line with its profile - but he would like to build on the cooperation with Sukhoi.

For now, however, it is not clear if Sukhoi and Alenia are really prepared to pass the magic mark with their development of the SSJ theme - and therefore risk a quarrel with their partner Boeing.

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