Launch Uncertain for Sukhoi Business Jet
The launch customer for the $50 million Sukhoi Business Jet has decided not to complete the first two aircraft and could back out of its deal to buy the aircraft altogether. Just when the first SBJ will be placed into service is now uncertain as Sukhoi and Italian partner Alenia toil to make deliveries to airline clients after fitting the aircraft with numerous upgrades, including a revamped passenger cabin by the Italian design house Pininfarina. (The first aircraft with that interior was delivered to Mexican airline Interjet at this year’s Paris Air Show. Interjet has ordered 20 SuperJet SSJ100s and holds options for 10 more.)
In October 2011 Comlux announced that it would purchase and complete two VIP versions of the Italian-Russian large commuter SuperJet (SSJ100-LR) at its Comlux USA facility and Indianapolis and place them into charter service, likely in Europe. It also took options for two more. The deal had a potential value of $200 million. The first part of that deal, the completions, is definitely off, according to Comlux USA president David Edinger.
Edinger told AIN that the Comlux USA completion center in Indianapolis is simply “too full” now to handle the SBJ completions.
Meanwhile, the deal to acquire the aircraft remains pending as SuperJet International, the SBJ’s marketing arm, determines whether it can meet Comlux’s requirements for aircraft performance criteria upgrades. “They are working to see if they can accommodate us,” Edinger said. The criteria are believed to be related to increased altitude and range, and changes to the center-of-gravity envelope.
The 109,000-pound-mtow aircraft currently has a ceiling of 40,000 feet and a range, with auxiliary tanks in VIP configuration, projected at a maximum 4,250 nm with eight passengers. Anticipated VIP configurations will provide seating for 13 to 38. The SBJ has a lot of interior real estate: 714 sq ft of floor space and 4,191.8 cu ft of cabin volume overall. The cabin measures 67 feet, 11 inches long. Cruise speed is Mach 0.78 and required takeoff runway length at mtow/ISO/sea level is 6,720 feet.
SuperJet is in the process of setting up its own VIP and corporate shuttle completions capability that likely will be located in Venice, Italy, adjacent to the hangars in which it paints the aircraft and installs commercial interiors. SuperJet is scheduled to complete three aircraft per month in Venice. Final decisions have yet to be made, according to SuperJet executive John Buckley, who noted that there is plenty of room for growth at the Venice site in dormant hangars once home to the Alenia Aeronavali MRO. “There’s room for a second line here for corporate interiors,” Buckley said.
“We are a new civil aircraft manufacturer and right now we are doing one thing at a time,” Buckley said. “Getting that new interior installed in the commercial jets was a major effort for us. Now that we have done this we have some time to focus on what comes next.”
Buckley said the auxiliary fuel tanks for the SBJ are currently being developed in Russia and will be certified by Russian authorities.
This year SuperJet International revised the potential market for the SBJ to 80 over the next 20 years rather than 100.
Sukhoi began work on the SuperJet in 2000, with Boeing joining in 2002 and Alenia in 2007. The Russian government also contributed 7.9 billion Rubles ($245 million) for research and development. Major suppliers include Thales (avionics), Saturn/Snecma (engines), Liebherr (environmental controls), Messier Dowty (landing gear), Zodiac (fuel system), B/E (interior), Honeywell (auxiliary power unit), Parker (hydraulics), Hamilton Sundstrand (electrical) and Goodrich (wheels and brakes). Alenia’s duties include completions, worldwide product support and running most of the sales and marketing through the SuperJet International subsidiary in Italy.