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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Sukoi Elbows Canada, Brazil With Its SuperJet Passenger Plane

VedomostiThe Sukhoi SuperJet 100, being escorted by a fighter, flying into Zhukovsky airfield outside Moscow last summer.

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, the commercial unit of Russian military plane maker Sukhoi, is chipping away at a Canadian-Brazilian duopoly for regional jets after scoring a milestone certification for its SuperJet model.  

The engine for the SuperJet, Russia’s first major passenger airplane project since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, was certified on Wednesday by the European Aviation Safety Agency. Russia’s Avia Register is set to follow “within a few weeks,” said PowerJet, the company selling the engine. Certification includes tests for safety, noise and emissions.

The approval brings the SuperJet, which can carry 75 to 95 passengers, one step closer to challenging Brazil’s Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica and Canada’s Bombardier as the only builders of regional jets. Certification for the plane may follow later this year, with three prototypes already accumulating thousands of hours of test flights, EASA said.

“From what we know today, the plane can still get certification this year,” Norbert Lohl, certification director at EASA, said at a ceremony in Cologne.

Bombardier filed for certification of its CSeries jet that seats 100 to 149 passengers with EASA at the beginning of the year, and Embraer filed for a competing plane this year, Lohl said. The process typically takes about five years, he said. Bombardier targets entry into service for 2013. The SuperJet may include a stretch version with up to 118 seats.  

The SuperJet is “three to four years” ahead of competitors, Snecma chief executive Philippe Petitcolin said at the event. Safran’s Snecma, together with Saturn NPO of Russia, make the SaM146 engine for the SuperJet.  

Some 13 engines will be produced this year, with as many as 50 following next year, Petitcolin said, reflecting the current order level of 122 planes for the SuperJet. Sukhoi has said it plans to sell at least 1,800 of the new jets over 20 years.  

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, in which Italy’s Finmeccanica owns 25 percent, is scheduled to deliver the first three SuperJets this year to Aeroflot and Armenian airline Armavia, Sukhoi CEO Mikhail Pogosyan said in June. Fifteen SuperJets are scheduled for delivery in 2011, he said.

The first SuperJet has been a long time coming. The jet was originally scheduled to start delivery at the end of 2008, but construction delays pushed that deadline back to 2009. That delivery date was also delayed, after problems arose with certifying the engine.

(Bloomberg, MT)