Internationally, the Superjet has been a flop so far. Now Russia wants to ensure success at home first. This also applies to the new Irkut MS-21 and Illyushin Il-114-300.
In summer 2018, Brussels Airlines announced that it would no longer rely on its leased Superjets in the future. The Russian regional jet is a decent aircraft, that doesn’t have any more technical problems than other planes, according to Brussels Airlines’ former boss Christina Foerster. But problems with the rapid availability of spare parts for the relatively young model meant that the aircraft weren’t able to spend much time in the air.
The largest international Superjet operator, Mexican Interjet, has repeatedly complained about similar problems. As a result, the Superjet was never able to assert itself outside Russia. Manufacturer Sukhoi therefore decided to give higher priority to service in future and to make the Superjet more Russian with more domestically produced parts.
Superjet, MS-21 and Il-114 with domestic focus
Sukhoi and the Superjet now belong to the Russian aviation consortium UAC, which is controlled by the state-owned Rostec group. Rostec’s aviation boss Anatoly Serdyukov stated in an interview with the channel RBC that the Superjet flop can be seen as a lesson.
«In the near future we want to concentrate on the domestic market», said Serdyukov. «Here we want to increase the market share of our products significantly.» Before actively promoting aeroplanes on the global market, a large, well-functioning fleet must be established in Russia, he says. «One of the priority areas here is the development of an effective operation and service procedure for the Superjet 100, Irkut MS-21 and Ilyushin Il-114.»
Government wants to make things harder for Airbus and Boeing
All these planes are part of UAC. The short and medium-haul jet MS-21 is undergoing flight tests, while the newly launched regional jet Il-114-300 is scheduled to take off on its maiden flight later this year. Serdyukov stressed that Russian aircraft manufacturers must «compete with strong foreign manufacturers, not among themselves». Therefore, the civil aviation division will be built on the basis of Irkut, and Superjet manufacturer Sukhoi has already been affiliated. Tupolev and Ilyushin are also expected to contribute and bring in their strengths.
The Russian government had made it clear in 2017 that domestic airlines should mainly buy Russian aircraft in the future. «I production of domestic aircraft increases, we will reduce the privileges that foreign aircraft manufacturers enjoy», said Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin at the time.