The Sukhoi Superjet program received a boost with several new orders at the MAKS airshow this week. VEB Leasing ordered 6 SSJ-100 aircraft that will be flown by UTAir. Iluyshin Finance also signed a deal for 20 aircraft, 5 of which will go to an unidentified airline in long-range 103 seat configuration, and 15 to go to customers in Southeast Asia and the Middle East starting in 2015. Lithuania’s AviaMA leasing also placed an order for 5 aircraft, as well as signing a deal with Sukhoi Commercial Aircraft Corporation to jointly promote the aircraft in emerging markets.
The orders for the long-range version, which was certified last week, provide an increase in range to 2,472 nm, a significant increase over the standard version at 1,590nm. Maximum take off weight increases to 109,109 lbs. from 101,150, and the version of the Powerjet SaM146 turbofans offer 5% additional thrust. With thin line seating, the capacity has been increased to 103 passengers in all economy configuration.
The 31 commitments are welcome news to the troubled program, which suffered a pilot-error accident in Indonesia while demonstrating the aircraft, and a wheels up landing in Iceland during a test flight. The aircraft has not met its expectations for commercial success with Western carriers, with only Mexican carrier Interjet a major operator. The joint venture partnership between Sukhoi and Alenia in Italy is reported to have become strained over the lack of performance, and Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Corporation reported a nearly $200 million loss in July for the first half of 2013. Sukhoi has 26 aircraft scheduled for production in 2013, and will expand its output to 40 aircraft in 2014.