Russia won’t cut Superjet target, Khristenko says


Russia has no plans to cut production targets for the new Sukhoi Superjet-100 despite the weak global aviation market, Industry Minister Viktor Khristenko told Russia Today television.

“For the time being we are not fundamentally changing our production plans,” Khristenko said in the interview.

“We are slightly moving back the timeframe, but still aim to produce 1,000 Superjets as planned.”

Reuters notes aircraft manufacturers have received significant order deferrals and cancellations as a result of the ongoing global economic downturn.

The head of one of Airbus’s largest customers, lessor International Leased Finance Corp, said in March that Airbus and Boeing may have to scale back production by 25-30 percent by mid-2010.

Russia Today noted that earlier reports stated Sukhoi would cut Superjet production to 74 jets from 230 in the next four years.

However, Khristenko said the government will not cut “a single kopek” from the $1.4 billion dollar project.

The minister added that Sukhoi expects to receive additional orders for the Superjet from an unnamed French airline in the near future.

Sukhoi said in March that national carrier Aeroflot would receive the first Superjet in December. Aeroflot had been originally promised first deliveries would take place at the end of 2008. Sukhoi is developing the Superjet in partnership with Italy‘s Alenia Aeronautica, which last month acquired just over 25 percent of the Russian firm.

The Superjet, a regional plane that can carry between 75 and 95 passengers, made its maiden flight — initially planned for 2007 — in May 2008 and is still undergoing tests.

The jet is designed to replace ageing Tupolev-134 and Yakovlev-42 planes on routes between Russia‘s regional cities, and has been developed by the civil aviation unit of Russia‘s state aviation corporation.

French engine maker SNECMA is also a partner in the project, which has consultancy support from US plane maker Boeing, according to Sukhoi’s website.