Sukhoi Superjet Takes Flight

Congratulations to Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi. The company’s first Superjet 100 successfully flew yesterday. This is obviously a huge milestone for any aircraft program, but it must be even more exciting for these guys since this is the first Russian commercial jet program with any economic success potential in many, many years.

Sukhoi’s Director General was so happy, he, um, didn’t make any sense at all. 08_05_20 sukhoifirstflightHe said, “Today is the most important day for us – we have virtually beaten the air with our own wings.” Uh, ok. Not sure what the air did to deserve the beating, but well, whatever. I’ll just assume it’s a translation issue.

This aircraft is very interesting, and I will be curious to see if it can gain any traction outside of the Russian sphere of influence. The aircraft has had plenty of Western help in its build, but it still carries a Russian name, and that may turn some operators off.

I have to assume that the price will be right, and the aircraft economics should be quite good as well (they say). Think about it this way. This plane should compete with the Embraer E190 family of aircraft. Who would have thought 20 years ago that you’d be buying jets from Brazil?

Further reading: My previous posts on the aircraft

4 Responses to Sukhoi Superjet Takes Flight

  1. Ivan B Zhabin says:

    Pogosyan said “today we literally got our wings.” The translation is simply bizarre.

    “The aircraft has had plenty of Western help in its build, but it still carries a Russian name, and that may turn some operators off.”

    This is not exactly analysis since your airline’s fleet planning department will not be doing anything based on the name, rather the bottom line. However, both Sukhoi and the potential Western customers are completely content to see the aircraft prove itself in the skies over the former CIS for a couple of years–one reason for that is that production rate is not going to be very fast at first, and there are plenty of orders already.

    To make an argument of equivalent logical value, since Venice is the site of international HQ for SSJ, the Western regional airlines will definitely sign a deal for plenty of SSJ100s after being wined/dined/taken on the gondola ride by the slick Italian salesmen. Actually, if the thing flies, there will be enough customers.

    That said, being in a RJ market is not that profitable. A much more interesting analysis is whether SSJ technology will be used as a platform for an A320/737 type replacement–a much larger market. Given that Boeing/Airbus appear to bide their time, and the worldwide demand for narrow bodies is staggering, this is the opening for Sukhoi. From the point of capability, the Russians are extremely advanced in material science and aerodynamics, and will be able to manufacture world-class airframes with the Western systems, just like SSJ. It’s only a question of someone coming up with the next-gen engine technology…

  2. Zach says:

    Good for them, and I hope that the endeavor is successful. As a best-case scenario (or, at least, a very-good-case scenario), do you see this becoming a staple of the European and Asian short-haul markets (thinking airlines like Bangkok Airways and SAS), or will they be marketing actively to North America?

  3. CF says:

    Ivan – In evaluating an aircraft, I have to assume that any potential negative consequences from a PR perspective would have to be considered. If they weren’t, then 50 seat RJs would probably never have taken off. People showed a preference for them and a willingness to pay more than on props, and that impacted the decision to go with all jets. I think it’s a safe bet that there will be some aversion to Russian-made jets here in the US, at least until they get a proven track record.

    Zach – I believe they’ll probably try to market to North America, but I imagine that Europe and the Middle East will find them more success.

  4. The Director General’s statement sounds a lot like something a certain denizen of the White House migh utter.

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