The Sukhoi SuperJet 100, Russia's regional jet programme, which it is developing with a multi-national consortia, including Boeing, Ilyushin, Alenia Aeronautica and a host of other companies, completed its maiden flight on Monday. The flight takes the company a step closer to becoming a global aircraft manufacturer.
According to the Moscow-based company, the regional jet flew for more than an hour and reached an altitude of 4,000 feet. The test of the 95-seat SuperJet 100 took place in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, the former closed city in the Far East built by Stalin in the 1930s.
"I am absolutely satisfied with the flight, 100 percent," Mikhail Pogosyan, chief executive officer of plane maker OAO Sukhoi Aviation Holding Co, said. "This is a big success for Sukhoi. Despite many difficulties, we achieved our goal."
Russia is spending more than $1.4 billion developing the 75-to-95-seat SuperJet in an effort to crash into the extremely competitive global civil aviation industry.
State-owned Sukhoi, and partner Finmeccanica SpA, have targeted the sale of at least 1,800 SuperJets over the coming two decades. Those would include a bigger version that will compete with Airbus' A320 series and The Boeing Co.'s 737.
The SuperJet's maiden flight takes place five months behind schedule, mainly because of delays arising from integrating components from about 40 international suppliers, including an engine co-developed by Safran SA's Snecma unit.
The SuperJet will compete in the market place with established global players such as Empresa Brasileira de Aeronautica SA of Brazil and Montreal-based Bombardier Inc., the only makers of jet airliners with fewer than 100 seats.
According to Pogosyan, an additional 600 to 700 test flights are required before deliveries begin. He also said that he expected flight certification to be complete within a year.
State-run OAO Aeroflot, Russia's largest airline, will be the jets first customer with deliveries scheduled to begin in November.