Interjet delays first SSJ100 delivery to March 2013

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Interjet chief executive Jose Luis Garza says that the airline will receive its first Sukhoi Superjet SSJ100 on 1 March 2013, rather than the previously planned date of November 2012.

Interjet now expects Sukhoi to deliver the aircraft at a rate of one per month following 1 March through the end of 2014.

Garza says that the airline made the decision because of "several reasons," the main being so that it can send its pilots at Superjet International's full-flight training simulator in Venice, Italy, rather than sending them to the SSJ100 simulator in Moscow.

The latter option would require a complicated certification process, he says. Superjet International, a joint venture of Venice-based Alenia Aermacchi and Sukhoi plans to install the simulator in its Venice facility later this year.

"From the training standpoint, it will be very, very complicated to send pilots up to Russia," said Garza, citing certification issues with pilot training specifically. "We prefer to do that in Venice in their simulator, and that will be ready by the beginning of next year," he adds.

The airline says the pilots will complete the simulator training in the first months of 2013. Garza says that the SSJ100 pilots will be include those with previous glass cockpit experience and current pilots who fly the airline's Airbus A320 aircraft.

Superjet has been under pressure to meet its delivery targets in 2012. In 2011, it had planned to deliver 15 SSJ100s and instead only delivered six. The airline plans to deliver 23 aircraft by the end of 2012, but it has only delivered four so far. Despite this, Garza maintains that the manufacturer's production output did not contribute to the delivery delay.

"We believe this is not a factor," says Garza.

Garza says he does not see cause for future concern if the manufacturer ramps up production as it plans to.

The Interjet CEO says another reason it chose to delay the aircraft delivery date was to better align the new fleet with its commercial strategy. He says that taking delivery of the aircraft at a stable rate of one per month will fit better with its plans for introducing the mostly domestic, short-haul routes that the aircraft will fly.

Garza says that another reason for the schedule change was to give more time to certify some specific interior features. He says that the timeframe to certify these features would be "too tight" by November, and says the operator prefers to have more time to add buffer time for the certification of the interior components.

Superjet International is designing an EASA supplemental type certification for the aircraft interior and has said it expects the first green aircraft to arrive at Superjet International's headquarters in Venice in August 2012 to undergo interior modifications.

Interjet's 93-seat SSJ100s are laid out in a single-class configuration with a 34in (864mm) seat-pitch -- the same seat configuration on its A320 aircraft.