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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

First Sukhoi Passenger Jet Takes Flight

For MTSome airlines say "air taxis" like the Su-80 could be of use on short-range flights.
Russian aviation design bureau Sukhoi, best know for its fighter jets, said Friday that its first passenger aircraft had successfully made its maiden flight.

Sukhoi spokesman Gennady Litvinov said the flight was made by the Su-80 on Friday in Komsomolsk-on-Amur in the Far East.

Sukhoi is eyeing the production of a small short-range passenger plane as a means of boosting revenues and helping it enter the market for passenger aircraft.

Russia's airlines will need to replace hundreds of planes in the next few years in their aging fleets, and some airlines have said that an "air taxi" like the Su-80 could be of use on short-range flights where larger planes can't now be filled.

The plane, which can carry 35 passengers or 8 tons of cargo, is scheduled to be fully certified by 2003. It has a flight range of 3,000 kilometers at a cruising speed of 500 kilometers per hour.

"Our twin-fuselage Su-80 will be equipped with two General Electric turboprop engines and can use paved and ground runways," Litvinov said.

"There are already orders from foreign and domestic airlines to load our factory for four years," he added. "The factory's capacity is from 15 to 20 planes a year."

U.S. aerospace giant Boeing is eyeing joint work with Sukhoi and the Ilyushin design bureau, another leading Russian plane builder, on joint work toward the creation of a brand-new Russian commercial aircraft.

Preliminary plans call for the design and construction of a regional jet seating up to 100 passengers.

Boeing would help market the plane both in Russia and abroad. The proposal is undergoing a feasibility study now.