Sukhoi unveils its new Superjet 100

Russia's first modern commercial passenger aircraft, the Sukhoi Superjet 100, was unveiled in the far eastern city of Komsomolsk-on-Amur. The airliner is intended to replace most of the country's outdated short and mid-range civil aircraft, and its first delivery is slated for next year.

The new plane was unveiled by Russia's first deputy prime minister Sergey Ivanov, with the company's chief executive Mikhail Pogosyan at his side. The Sukhoi Superjet 100 is the first passenger jet to come out of Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Built at a formerly secret military facility in Russia's far east, the country hopes the Sukhoi Superjet 100 will mark the beginning of a renaissance in Russia's civil aviation industry. Officials hope the new aeroplane will also appeal to the overseas market.

The new 98-seater jet promises to be much cheaper than its competitors. The company also says it will be more fuel-efficient and more comfortable for passengers. Test flights are scheduled to begin before the end of the year.

Russian airlines as well as their international counterparts are expressing interest in the plane, and Sukhoi already has 73 solid orders and 39 options, Ivanov, who is also the head of Russia's umbrella aircraft manufacturing outfit the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), said.

Vladimir Pirozhkov, who designed the Superjet's livery, said the idea behind the airliner's attractive artwork (see picture) was the Russian flag. However, analysts say a lot of work still needs to be done on the plane before it can be delivered.