The Russian government is studying a way to boost production of the Superjet 100 commercial jet, whose image on the market is shaken by problems with its reliability. According to Russian Aviation Insider website, Vladimir Putin’s administration wants state-owned investment bank VEB to fund the purchase of up to 100 units of the Sukhoi aircraft and lease them to Aeroflot.
Aeroflot is currently the largest customer of the 100-seat model with 49 aircraft (one was lost at the Moscow emergency landing in May) and would have the new aircraft leased for 12 years.
Although it is an open joint stock company, its largest partner is precisely the Russian government with a 51.2% stake in its capital. For this reason, despite having a fleet of mainly Western aircraft such as the A320 family and the Boeing 777-300ER, the country’s flag carrier continues to honor the Russian aviation industry. In addition to Sukhoi, the company ordered 50 MC-21-300 jets, currently under development by Irkut.
The Superjet 100 was launched in the early 2000s and flew for the first time in 2008. It started operating in 2011 with Armenia’s Armavia company, which went bankrupt two years later.
It is estimated that of the nearly 180 aircraft produced, about 120 are currently active, the vast majority on Russian airlines such as Yakutia Airlines, Gazpromavia and Azimuth, and of course Aeroflot.
One of the few western companies to bet on the Sukhoi jet was the Mexican Interjet, but the lack of spare parts has made most of the 22 aircraft out of service. The company has already stated that it intends to return the aircraft, despite its low acquisition cost.