Russian Superjet Enjoys Successful Maiden Flight

May 21, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

The mid-range Sukhoi Superjet 100 took off from Komsomolsk-on-Amur on May 19. This is the first civil aircraft to have been made in the new Russia and as such it has attracted a lot of attention. During the test flight, the SSJ100 managed to reach the launch flight mission height of 1 200 meters and the flight lasted a total of one hour, five minutes. The test flight provided the perfect opportunity for the pilot and test pilot to perform a number of maneuvers, which the Sukhoi passed with flying colors. At the end of the flight the crew was able to confirm various things such as the thrust-to-weight ratio of the aircraft and the fact that the engines and main systems were capable of sustained operation.

The SSJ100’s first flight was captained by Chief Pilot Alexander Yablontsev who took off with test pilot Leonid Chikunov at his side. Yablontsev is ecstatic about the results – indeed, most people in the Russian aeronautics industry are abuzz. The new Superjet is seen by many to be the saving grace of the Russian aeronautics sector. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russian airline companies have been forced to buy western-built planes in order to keep their fleets from falling out the skies due to age. The making of the aircraft has taken a long time and the SSJ100 was supposed to have taken off on its maiden flight last year already, but construction hold-ups prevented the company from reaching that milestone on time. Fortunately it would seem that all the creases are finally being ironed out and the company should have its first four planes completed by the end of the year. Despite the fact that a number of complex certification processes still need to be sorted out, the company hopes to be selling as many as 800 models by 2024. And, with the price of the SSJ100 working out to about 25% less than its direct competitor, it may certainly reach this goal. Already the company has 73 confirmed orders and a further two large contracts are in the process of being signed.

The plane is currently being built in a remote city, called Komsomolsk-on-Amur, that is situated 8 000 kilometers east of Moscow. The SSJ100 will be available with a 98 or 78 passenger capacity and is being fitted with Snecma engines from France. While things are looking good for the future of the Russian aeronautics sector, the new Sukhoi still needs to complete 599 additional flights safely before the necessary paperwork can be completed.

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