In The Works: Sukhoi SSBJ
Officials at Sukhoi have revealed next to nothing about the company’s proposed supersonic business jet program over the last 12 months. However, during a joint U.S./Russian roundtable discussion on aviation issues in May, Sukhoi general director Mikhail Pogosyan, one of the speakers, said “certain progress” had been achieved during a joint feasibility study with Boeing, not only on the Russian Regional Jet, but also on the SSBJ. “We are entering the year of strategic cooperation with U.S. firms on the industrial level,” he added. Given the cost (estimated previously at more than $1 billion) and complexity of such an aircraft project, the company’s 1999 estimate of a year 2002 first flight now appears well nigh impossible. When Sukhoi announced it was working on an SSBJ at the 1999 Paris Air Show, it said the aircraft would be powered by three Soyuz VK21 turbofan engines generating 14,500 lb of thrust each and would carry up to 10 passengers 4,300 nm. Estimated selling price was $40- to $50 million. Estimates by U.S. firms working on supersonic airplane development put the eventual price of an SSBJ closer to $70- to $80 million (See 'Answers sought for SSBJ questions').