Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Sukhoi Superjet 100 won't be included in Russia Special Flights Squadron


The Rossia Special Flights Squadron, a state carrier responsible for flying top Kremlin and government officials, wont include the new Sukhoi Superjet 100 in its fleet because the jet uses too many foreign parts.The squadron, which has about 30 aircraft and was split from the state Rossia airline this year, needs new planes soon, including two Il-96-300s, two An-148s and four Tu-204/212s, according to a letter to President Dmitry Medvedev signed by Vladimir Kozhin, head of the Office for Presidential Affairs.

A copy of the letter, dated July 22 and stamped with Medvedevs approval, was obtained by Vedomosti. Viktor Khrekov, spokesman for the Office of Presidential Affairs, confirmed the letters existence.Kozhin told Vedomosti last year that the fleet would be upgraded since many of the planes dont meet modern requirements and have already reached the end of their technical life spans.

While there were no options for middle- and long-range flights beyond Ilyushins and Tupolevs, the office had a choice for regional flights: the An-148, the Tu-334 or the Superjet. The Tu-334 started as the front-runner, although there were concerns that it could be too expensive. The plane is not in production, meaning the presidential order would need to be specially accommodated and the six planes would cost a total of 8 billion rubles ($252 million), said Konstantin Lantratov, spokesman for the United Aircraft Corporation.

After the Superjets first flight last year, its chances rose considerably, a source close to Sukhoi told Vedomosti. The An-148 ultimately got the nod.Khrekov, of the Office of Presidential Affairs, said the decision was made on security concerns. More than 70 percent of the An-148 is now produced in Russia, and the figure will increase to 90 percent. The Superjet is built as part of an international joint venture, with key elements being produced abroad.

Olga Kayukova, a spokeswoman for Sukhoi Civil Aviation, said importing fewer Superjet parts would be expensive, although such a pricey and prestigious order for the new plane would have been a boost for the new jet.The regional An-148, with a catalog price of 750 million rubles, was developed in Ukraine and is produced under license at a Voronezh plant owned by the United Aircraft Corporation. Two An-148s, built for the squadron, will be delivered in 2010 and used to fly people traveling with top officials, such as aides and reporters, Lantratov said.

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