Sukhoi Superjet 100 Revisited

July 2018: Superjet International and its toy boy the Sukhoi Superjet 100 appears to need some media help. It is a good product and no dark skulduggery to whitewash the punters, but from the outside, it definitely looks like the Superjet 100 could do with a heavy dose of serious PR to counter archaic perceptions. So in truly friendly, helping hand generosity, brings you ‘Sukhoi Superjet 100 revisited.

As of writing, the next Bahrain International Air Show should be a belter and it is scheduled for 14th -16th November (2018). Reading the Bahrain International Airshow website, we see that United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) has confirmed participation.  Oooo!  Does that mean the Superjet will be back as the 130 or will it be military or even a new Antonov, Ilyushin or um..whatever else came under that umbrella. Who knows, out of its wrapper, we might even see the fabulous MC-21-300 (see below).

For sure, unless we are to be joyously surprised, the Superjet 100 will probably not be there for the 2018 show (from their website schedule so far) and nor will the upgraded Superjet 130 – and if not, one cannot blame them really as much as we would love to see them, but watch this space.

During the last airshow, this little known, but very good looking regional jet was parked among the big boys. The big boys being airlines; there only for show and not for sale as this one was.  It was a Russian come Western Jet called the ‘Sukhoi Superjet 100‘, sporting Mexico’s ‘Interjet’ Colours.

Speaking to their then C.E.O. Nazario Cauceglia, the vibe was good and sales moving. But what happened to it? Well, decided to update its earlier report and here you have it;  ‘Sukhoi Superjet 100 revisited’ and inserts from the now President and Chairman of the Board.

Going around and around the airshow at the time, without diminishing Bahrain’s great efforts, we mentioned that there was nothing particularly FARNBOROUGH new, like the first monstrously gorgeous  Airbus A350, or the other spanking new Russian A320/A220 competitor, masquerading as the Irkut MC-21-300. Not to detract from the effort, Bahrain is good for displays, of which there are some really worthy ones. The Superjet 100 was in fact the ‘only’ new, first time seen aircraft there, but largely passed by, other than a glance from what we could tell. It was a bit of a welcome shock to the enthusiasts at Who Does What, hence we sat down with Nazario, who we warmed to immensely, with his very real, honest and straightforward approach to media questioning.

It seemed the crowd, particularly the local media were more interested in the arrival of the Qatar Airways mouthpiece Abu Baker, but isn’t that the world today? If Kim Kardashian was making an appearance, then there might as well have been no aircraft there at all. As for the rest, well it was made up of fighters, business jets and weapons which have been displayed umpteen times before.

This is Bahrain after all, we are small, but willing. But then, Dubai doesn’t really muster much more other that this massive glut of expatriates who fawn over everything Dubai. So very well established, it is Farnborough and the Paris Air Show where the big boys hold on like they are dying to go for a massive pee…then let it all out as soon as the show opens. Imagine, if Bahrain could muster that sort of impact. Why not, Bahrain is a better place to hold it, roads are good and the weather more predictable, the people so much more friendly. Ah dream on!

The Russians are coming and the world is oblivious. Furthermore, the rivets have been tightened, the attitude indicator now working as in the west and the engines infinitely cleaner.  Many new aircraft are emanating from this cold land and the trend is for the ‘joint consortium’ with Western technology such as the Superjet 100.  Russian joint ventures are still in their infancy and so odd when Europe and the US are obsessed right now with anti-Russian rhetoric, mostly from the very sad Hilary brigade and ego addicts across the European spectrum of lizards, so quite how a Pratt and Whitney engine ends up on a Russian design still smacks of pioneering suicide one might assume.

That’s the underlying nastiness out of the way, now where were we? Own up, have you ever heard of the Superjet 100?  Despite it being operated from Ireland and Mexico as well as Russia of course? Then again, unless you are an aviation aficionado of anorak knighthood, then you have NEVER seen or heard of the MC-21-300 either, which is still in diapers, but it is coming. Yes, you know the Antonov beasts and the the Ilyushin chariots and maybe a bit of Yakolev. Watch the video, because this MC-21 is a serious competitor and it looks the part with Pratt and Whitney Engines no less. That’s getting of the track a bit though, because the MC-21 is nothing to do with Superjet International other than it being built by the parent company.

Regional jets from Embraer and Bombardier which includes the now renamed Airbus A220, assumed Russia has no real desirable equivalent, so think they might stand a chance especially as Aeroflot are operating Western jets these days. However, watch out, because they could have a very rude awakening as new products are emerging which look very much like they have been 3D printed.

Similarly, the Superjet 100 has appeal, but maybe not as shiny as say the Embraer E series, but a darn sight better looking than the Bombardier CRJ series which is a skinny-dipper the likes of Delta have gorged on.

Airlines NEVER consider passenger appeal and if they say they do, they are lying. The CRJ is a cramped test tube by comparison to the Superjet 100, but they service the same market. The Superjet 100 is cheaper, it has passenger appeal on short haul and commonality with Airbus, but sadly it is Russian, so selling it to the West is always going to be an uphill struggle.

As for reliability; there is not so much data out there, other than the complaint that Sukhoi, or Superjet International who are responsible, are not getting spares out to the service areas. The feeling is that Sukhoi, supported by the Russian Government are happy to let the Superjet 100 die and concentrate on the slightly bigger Superjet 130 with winglets and better fuel consumption. Looking at that from a non-partisan view or from the outside, then another costly mistake is in the making. It would be back to square one as it appears to be aimed solely to appease the few current customers who want to land at shorter runways. Maybe 50 jets to Russian operators is considered enough and the Russians are just not hungry enough to seriously compete.

So curiosity got the better of Who Does What TV and it was decided to take another look, hence; ‘Sukhoi Superjet 100 revisited’.  Why did Leonardo reduce their share holding in Superjet International?  If we had the chance to talk to Nazario Cauceglia again, who has now risen to President and Chairman of the board, he is such a nice, straight forward guy, we feel so sure that he would come right out with it. Not only that, he invited us to visit Vienna and see for ourselves.  That would be very nice indeed, if Superjet International are still ‘What you see is what you get’ and prepared to cover the expenses of hosting a crew who love you, but will not lie for you, then bring it on.