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Russian State Reshuffle Jeopardizes Key Sukhoi Export Deal

Maxim Stulov / Vedomosti

Russian airplane manufacturer Sukhoi could see its flagship export deal jeopardized amid a botched Kremlin reshuffle.

The export of Sukhoi's SSJ-100 aircraft to Europe, including a key order to Irish airline CityJet, is set to cease in mid-April in an ongoing licensing row.

Problems first began to surface in 2015, when Russia's Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) was stripped of the power to approve and certify aircraft designs as safe.

Its responsibilities were distributed between the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Industry and Energy and the Federal Air Transport Agency, Rosaviatsia.

Yet a prolonged and difficult handover has forced Russia's Prosecutor General's Office to step in, the Kommersant newspaper reported Friday.

Officials found that the Ministry of Transport still hadn't put systems in place or concluded international negotiations a year and a half after the transfer took place.

The problems have caused the EU to refuse export documents issued by Rosaviatsia, claiming that the organization lacks the legislation needed to regulate work carried out on aircraft.

Russian manufacturers have so far been forced to obtain duplicate certificates for their aircraft from both Rosaviatsia and IAC. Export certificates for European authorities are still issued by the Aviation Register of the IAC on behalf of the Ministry of Industry and Trade.

That system is set to fall apart in April, when the transition period ends and licensing powers fully switch over to Rosaviation, Kommersant reported.

Prosecutor General Yury Chaika has reportedly already urged Russian President Vladimir Putin with a request to force officials to speed up the change-over process.

No formal investigation has been announced, despite reports that Rosaviatsiya "actively forbade aircraft operators to interact with the IAC."

The Sukhoi SSJ-100 is considered to be Russia's first post-Soviet airliner. 

The 98-seat regional jet is currently used by a number of airlines worldwide, including Brussels Airlines, Indonesia's Sky Aviation, and Ireland's City Jet.

The IAC and Rosaviatsia did not respond to the newspaper's request for comment. 

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