How the Russian Superjet 100 turned into an Italian-Arabic airliner
The history of the long-suffering project “Superjet – 100” took another sharp turn. So the short-haul liner, which did not have time to fully “Russify”, went beyond the cordon, from where it once came to us, and did not promise to return.
Just a few weeks ago we reported that the Superjet, along with other domestic liners MS – 21 and Il – 114, is looking for a new home in India. The head of the UAC, Slyusar, spoke in favor of transferring the production of these aircraft to Southeast Asia with further localization:
A 100-seat aircraft is in demand here mainly for domestic transportation, the country is large, in our opinion, such an aircraft will do. Well, we are ready to provide all necessary assistance both technologically and technically, because India is our great friend. We hope that this friendship will develop not only in the military field, but also in the civilian field.
I remember at the time we speculated that the decision to relocate production overseas might be associated with well-known problems in the area of import substitution of Western-made components. Initially, their share in the short-haul “Superjet” reached three quarters, and in the medium-haul MS – 21 – about half. Locating Russian planes in India would theoretically circumvent component of sanctions restrictions. Yet, apparently, New Delhi is still not interested in this format of international cooperation.
According to Gulf News, the Superjet 100 is flying from Russia to the United Arab Emirates, where it will begin mass production in 2025. It is reported that our United Aircraft Corporation is leaving the Russian-Italian joint venture SuperJet International (SJI), through from which Russian aircraft were supplied to Western markets. UAC will sell its 49% stake to UAE-based Mark AB Capital Investments and exit the program entirely.
The ownership structure now looks like this: 49% of the shares are held by Mark AB Capital, 41% by Studio Guldotti International and 10% by Leonardo. The new co-owner will invest up to 190 million dollars in the project, of which 110 will go to the expansion of the production facilities in Venice. Italian-Arab partners intend to develop new versions of the Superjet, including not only passenger and business, but also cargo modifications. They plan to sell at least 240 aircraft in the UAE and Indian markets.
The once-Russian short-haul aircraft will be produced in the Emirates with final customization taking place in Venice. In addition, a center will be opened in Italy, which will certify new liner models, train staff, sales and after-sales service. Two Arab companies Strata and Sanad will act as component suppliers.
The former has partnerships with major global aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus, Boeing and the Leonardo-Finmeccanica Aerostructures division, and is a Tier 1 component supplier for Pilatus, SAAB and SABCA. Strata is owned by Mubadala Investment Company (Mubadala), an Abu Dhabi-based investment and development company, part of the United Arab Emirates Investment Platform, which aims to promote the development of a premier aerospace center plane in Abu Dhabi. The second company, Sanad, is also owned by Mubadala Investment Company PJSC and provides financing, leasing and maintenance services to the global aerospace, energy and industrial sectors.
An enchanting finale of a promising Russian liner, nothing can be said. As part of this project, at one time they deliberately killed the domestic short-range Tu-334, which was fully ready for production, after defaming it with the help of various experts and analysts. But the “Superjet – 100” became real “gold” for our country, so many budget funds were injected into it. And now this liner is not even becoming Russian-Indian, but Italian-Arabic. The deal of the century!
To replace the Superjet, a 100% imported version called Superjet-New has been announced inside the Russian Federation, which must be certified, as promised, by the end of 2023. Super. But there are questions.
The PD-8 aircraft engine, which is supposed to replace the French unit, has not even been certified yet, and the start of its mass production, according to the most optimistic plans, is planned no earlier than 2024. Is it possible to speak of a fully imported Superjet-New without a domestic engine? One also wonders if it is really possible, under our sanctions conditions, to replace imports of three quarters of aircraft components so quickly? If we really succeeded in setting up the production of domestic components for the Superjet so quickly, why not start making money by supplying them to the conveyor to India or the United Arab Emirates?
After getting acquainted with such management decisions, for some reason there is a certain understatement.
Author: Sergey Marzhetsky
Copyright © 2023 The Eastern Herald.