FARNBOROUGH: Sukhoi to build Superjet components in Indonesia

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Sukhoi Civil Aircraft plans to outsource the production of some parts of the Superjet SSJ100 to Indonesia.

The company is close to concluding an agreement with Indonesia Aerospace (IAe), which will manufacture the vertical and horizontal stabiliser and the empennage of the aircraft at its facilities in Bandung.

A commercial offer is on the table and being finalised, and a deal is expected to be signed on 21 July when officials from Indonesia's transport ministry visit Moscow, says Vladimir Prisyazhnyuk, president of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft.

"We started negotiations two years ago. We visited the production facilities in Indonesia to assess what they can do, we have seen their capabilities, and we are confident that they can meet our standards. The commercial offer is being assessed and we will finalise everything very shortly," he adds.

This move is partly aimed at deepening its roots in Indonesia, where the air transport market has been growing rapidly and the demand for regional aircraft is projected to increase as airports in Tier II and III cities are opened up.

"Indonesia is an important market. There are 240 million people and 17 large islands that need air links. There is going to be an open skies agreement in Southeast Asia, and that will help with the growth of direct links and lead to more demand for regional aircraft. This is a great opportunity for us," says Prisyazhnyuk.

Indonesian airlines are among the biggest international customers for the Superjet, with Kartika Airlines ordering 30 and Sky Aviation ordering 12. The programme, however, suffered a setback when a SSJ100 crashed into a mountain just off Jakarta, the country's capital, on 9 May while on a demonstration flight. All 37 passengers and eight crew, mostly Indonesians, died in the incident.

There was some pressure on the Indonesian airlines from their government to review, and possibly even cancel their orders. Sukhoi officials, however, have moved fast to ease all concerns about the aircraft's capability.

"It was unfortunate and we have worked hard to ensure that the victim's families are compensated, and cooperated with the investigators in both Indonesia and Russia. We did not want this to happen, but it did and we are doing everything to make sure that we do the right thing. But it is also important to understand why the incident happened, and we have been talking to our customers about that," says Prisyazhnyuk.

"The final report is due around end of July or early August, and we do not want to pre-empt that. But based on what we know, we are almost 100% sure that there was no technical failure or malfunction. We are almost 100% sure that it was an operational issue that led to the incident."

The company remains in talks with potential customers in Asia, and hopes to conclude negotiations with two airlines in India, one in Pakistan and one more in Indonesia this year, he adds. It also plans to begin talks with Chinese carriers in the first quarter of 2013, he says.

"We have orders for 174 aircraft and there have been no cancellation from any of our customers. We are confident that the Superjet will become very popular in the market segment," he says.