The VIP-configured Superjet 100 offers room for 19 passengers. Photo: Sukhoi
Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC) showcased its 19-seat VIP-configured Sukhoi Superjet 100 in India in December, making use of the opportunity presented when the aircraft transported Russian Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov and United Aircraft (UAC) president Mikhail Pogosyan to the Russia-India Summit in Delhi.
The Russian interstate aviation committee aviation register issued approval, equivalent to certification, for the aircraft in November. The Russian government is the first customer for the airplane.
The company recently announced the sale of three VIP versions to the King of Thailand and plans to roll out fiveVIP versions annually starting in late 2015.
According to the OEM’s internal research, India could absorb 50 aircraft (VIP, corporate and regional) through 2030. “We believe the program has immense potential,” said a Sukhoi spokesman. “We also see opportunities for the corporate version, in particular for companies in mining and construction,” he said.
However, some in the industry see a less rosy outlook. “With dedicated business aircraft in that market that have built global acceptability on the basis of thousands of flying hours and established authorized service centers,” it might be a long wait for the Sukhoi Superjet, said Rohit Kapur, president of India’s Business Aircraft Operators Association. The Superjet will be up against the Embraer Lineage 1000, Airbus ACJ and Boeing BBJ in the bizliner market.
Nonetheless, “We are looking at possibilities to deliver the Sukhoi Superjet for both regional service and as business jets since there are requirements for such aircraft in India,” Pogosyan told AIN, pointing out that his company already has “military aircraft programs in India such as the fifth-generation fighter and medium transport.”
PARTNERSHIPS WITH INDIA
Sukhoi sees “good opportunity for cooperation with India” on the MC-21 and Sukhoi Superjet. Sukhoi plans to begin flight-testing the former next year, with deliveries to follow in 2017 and 2018. Moving away from tapping only traditional government partners such as government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics, the company is “looking at possibilities in the private sector.” It is likely an agreement will be signed with an Indian company for manufacture of components. Beta Aviation is one of the companies with whom Sukhoi Superjet has signed sales representation, the spokesman said. Others are to follow, he added.