Superjet 100 Indefinitely Delayed

VedomostiUAC says engines for the Superjet, seen on a test flight, are not ready.

The United Aircraft Corporation head Alexei Fyodorov said Monday that deliveries of the Superjet 100 have indefinitely been delayed because the engines are not ready.

Fyodorov also told reporters that UAC, the state-controlled holding that brings together most of Russia’s biggest design bureaus and production plants, delivered 90 aircraft this year, including 17 passenger models, and that it may soon resume production of the world’s largest mass-produced cargo plane, the An-124.

Sukhoi — best know for making fighter jets — is developing Superjet in partnership with shareholder Italian aerospace and defense group Finmeccanica. The engines are being produced by Russia’s Saturn with France’s Safran, while Thales is involved in avionics.

“Sukhoi is in talks with the buyers about new time frames for delivery of these planes. The engine makers have shifted the timetable of certification. Well, it turned out they were not ready,” Fyodorov said. “I think the problems were indeed technical — a new engine is being developed.”

Saturn spokeswoman Lyubov Kalinina confirmed that the engines were going through the process of receiving necessary documentation and testing.

“The engine is being certified. We are aiming to get the engines certified according to European, U.S. and, of course, Russian standards, by May-June,” she said, adding that the engine would be delivered to the client after certification.

About 100 of the planes have been ordered, and Aeroflot is the first in line.

Last week, Industry and Trade Minister Viktor Khristenko said deliveries would start in the first half of 2010, marking a further delay on the original late 2008 deadline.

Separately, Fyodorov said UAC expected revenues of 115 billion to 120 billion rubles for 2009, rising to more than 150 billion rubles in 2010, under Russian accounting standards. It needs to restructure some 70 billion rubles worth of debt, he said.

Russian aircraft manufacturers controlled by UAC delivered 31 MiG-29 and two Su-34 fighter jets for the Air Force, Fyodorov said. “This year for the first time we have a high volume of deliveries for the state procurement order,” he said.

President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the inclusion of 20 An-124 jets in the military’s purchase plan, according to a list of orders from Dec. 10 faxed by the Kremlin last week. Medvedev also ordered the government to help UAC promote the aircraft at home and abroad.

“We’re primarily talking about the Defense Ministry because without such an initial order it’s very risky to launch this project,” Fyodorov said. “No doubt there is demand for commercial shipments by this jet but we have to understand it is a very expensive aircraft.”

UAC will need about 17 billion rubles to upgrade the airplane and overhaul the production facility. The modernized An-124 will be able to lift 150 tons of cargo and will retail for about $200 million, Fyodorov said.

UAC will be able to deliver the first An-124s, also known as Ruslans, in 2014 if Medvedev’s order is implemented soon, Fyodorov said.

Also, more than 30 Su-30 jets were exported to India, Malaysia and Algeria this year, he said. The country also delivered six MiG-29s to India this year and agreed to supply 20 MiG-29s to Myanmar, he said, without elaborating. 

(Reuters, Bloomberg)

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