Superjet 100 seems like a Supergoofy name for an airplane, don’t you think? Come to think of it, the 787’s moniker – Dreamliner – isn’t exactly any better. Anyway, the Superjet 100 is Russia’s first Superserious entry into the commercial aviation market . . . ever.
Back in the good old days, the Russians thrived on copying western aircraft planes and then tweaking them to fit their needs. They’d market it under their own brand name and make every country in their sphere of influence buy the planes. Today, most airlines have abandoned the old Russian planes, but you will still find them in places like Cuba, Russia (duh), and some of the former Soviet republics. Really, the only reason they’re still around is either due to government pressure or because those airlines don’t have the money to buy newer, better planes.
But now we’ve got the Sukhoi Superjet 100 coming on to the scene, and this could be a real contender in the world of regional jets.
The plane is meant to compete with the Embraer 175/190/195 family as well as the Bombardier CRJ-700/900/1000 family. It will come in two or three sizes, depending on what you believe – 60 seats (maybe), 75 seats, and 95 seats. It will meet all Superstrict FAA (US) and JAA (EU) aviation regulations, and it will produce the same levels of noise as its competitors. The engines are a joint venture between Russian NPO Saturn and France’s Snecma (50% partner on the CFM56 – the engine that powers all 737s built in the last 20 years). Oh, and did I mention that Boeing has been a consultant on the project since the early days? FlightGlobal has all the details you could ever want here.
As you can see above, the plane inside will look sort of like an MD-80, Supersuper 80 if you use American’s naming conventions. The seating configuration will be 2 x 3 for a total of 5 across. That will give the regional jet more of a big jet feel. In fact, the cabin is actually 3″ wider than an MD80. It’s also has 3″ more headroom in the aisle. For more measurements, you can compare it to the MD80 cross section below.
Even though the insides will look similar, the outsides won’t. The Superjet will have engines under the wings so those sitting in the last rows won’t go deaf like they do on MD80s.
I don’t know much about costs yet, especially since the plane hasn’t taken flight, but I have to imagine it will be competitive at least. So will you see these plying skies around the world soon?
That’s the big question that nobody can answer yet. It’s going to take a lot for western airlines to even think about ordering a Russian plane. I mean, there is a long history of mistrust they’ll have to overcome. Recent escalating tensions between the US and Russia can only hurt the effort. But just looking at its merits, it seems like the Superjet could be the first plane out of Russia to actually have a shot at success. (Not Supersuccess, just regular success.)