In a sweltering and packed press conference (press conference(">see what the BBC said about it here), ItAli Airlines ordered 10 SSJ 100s, plus 10 options, for delivery from 2009 up to 2011. It currently operates mainly Boeing MD-82s and Dornier 328s on domestic and charter services.
The shot shows ItAli Airlines founder and chairman Giuseppe Spadaccini (centre left) receiving an SSJ model from Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company president Victor Subbotin just before the signing was stopped to prevent those attending from fainting due to lack of oxygen.
This is a significant breakthrough for the Russian project as Sukhoi seeks to become the first civil airliner manufacturer from the country to export its product to those other than "friendly" states (eg Cuba).
Spadaccini admits that selecting the 98-seat SSJ ahead of Bombardier CRJs or the Embraer 190 is a risk. "We considered this but we've already had experience with Russian aircraft," he says.
Another part of the Aeroservices Group, of which ItAli Airlines is a member, has operated the Be-200 for the past two summers in a trial of the amphibious fire-fighting twinjet.
In addition, Alenia has "assured is they will give us all the support we need to enter service", he says. "Alenia's support is a big warranty for me." Alenia has taken a 25% stake in Sukhoi's SSJ programme.
Sukhoi says it now has 71 firm orders for the SSJ, with the ItAli Airlines order adding to the 61 already placed by Russian airlines and lessors. The aircraft is due to roll out in September with first flight by year end. Launch customer Aeroflot is to put the SSJ into service in November 2008.