In September 2007, at the KnAAPO assembly plant in Siberia, rolled out the 95-seat transport vehicle onto the tarmac. It was a joint venture between the Russian Aviation Industry, Rosaviakosmos (Space Agency) and the Boeing Company along with the marketing genius of Sukhoi, Ilyushin and Boeing.
It was the Sukhoi Superjet 100. The first of its kind. The beginning of a new series.
Deliveries were to begin in late 2008, but delays and complications meant that deliveries got postponed, even cancelled. Sukhoi predicted that 163 units of all variations of the Superjet 100 will be delivered by the end of 2016. This number now looks too ambitious, considering the market and competition.
I felt Russia had managed to create an aviation oil-well with the manufacturing and launch of the superjet. They were scheduled to save a lot of money on imports and the orders had already started flowing in. The superjet 100 was a direct challenge to the Boeing 737 and the Airbus 319 in the small-aircrafts category. But so far, it is just the former CIS countries that have placed huge orders. But when word spreads out about the efficiency of this machine, even the Brits might think twice about their agreement with Airbus. India and Russia have a “positive” history when it comes to aircrafts.
In the long run the bigger jumbos like Boeing 747 and Airbus A380 will take away the candy, but the Sukhoi superjet is an excellent example of how to succeed when it comes to short-term profit in the aviation industry. It makes sense economically to the Russians, if they have counted right. They’ll need to fund their next few space mission failures with the money they generate out of the aviation industry. Kidding!
Even though I wish at times Russia had more money, so that they could show the world what is the true meaning of technology, there are hints that they are attempting to establish themselves in the industry at least.