Langkawi, Malaysia: The Russian civil jet programme is off to a flying start with its prestigious SuperJet 100 production schedule full up with orders, primarily from Russian air carriers. Orders for the medium-range passenger aircraft developed by the Sukhoi Design Bureau in cooperation with major American and European aviation corporations, will keep the production lines busy till the start of 2010, and also partially through 2011, according to Sukhoi officials.
The American and European corporations involved with the design and supply of components for the programme include Boeing, Snecma, Thales, Messier Dowty, Liebherr Aerospace, and Honeywell.
"Confirmed orders from Russian air carriers have filled our SuperJet 100 production capacity for 2008-2009, about 50% for 2010, and partially for 2011," Sukhoi CEO Mikhail Pogosyan told reporters at the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (LIMA) 2007 exhibition in Malaysia.
So far, Sukhoi has secured over 70 orders for its regional aircraft and expects to increase the number to 100 by the end of the year. Aeroflot, Russia''s leading air carrier, is one of its largest clients, with orders placed for at least 45 planes.
Sukhoi plans to produce at least 700 SuperJet 100s, and intends to sell 35% of them to North America, 25% to Europe, 10% to Latin America, and 7% to Russia and China.
According to Pogosyan, the SuperJet 100 had good prospects in Southeast Asian markets.
"We are negotiating sales with air carriers from Indonesia, Vietnam, China and India. We have also had contacts with our Malaysian partners," the Sukhoi official said, adding that the main goal at present was to form efficient mechanisms of sales financing for each customer.
According to Pogosyan, Sukhoi would consider building post-sales service centres in most prospective SuperJet markets.
"In Southeast Asia it could be Singapore, which is a key transportation hub in the region with developed logistics infrastructure and efficient management," he said.
Meanwhile, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft and Hungarian national air carrier Malev Airlines signed an agreement on Friday to build a servicing and repair centre for SuperJet 100 in Hungary.
According to Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who holds a large stake in Malev Airlines, the company may purchase up to 15 of the new aircraft next year.
"I believe Malev will order up to 15 new 95-seat SuperJet-100 planes. The decision could be made in the first half of 2008," he said in September.
Sukhoi made the first public presentation of the SuperJet 100 in September and said it intended to make first deliveries of the aircraft to customers by early 2008.
The catalogue price of a 95-seat basic version is $28 million. The company is currently working on both smaller and larger capacity models of the SuperJet 100 series.
According to industry estimates, the overall market for regional jets of the SuperJet 100 variety is estimated to be at about 5,500 planes up to 2023, worth $100 billion.