PARIS: Face the facts with Superjet International's Franzoni

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SuperJet International is readying itself to support Sukhoi Superjet 100 customers worldwide. The company's chief executive Alessandro Franzoni brings Flight Daily News up to speed on latest developments

The economic crisis has impacted heavily on airlines sales. What effect is this having on the Superjet 100 programme?

The Superjet 100 has a backlog of 98 firm orders, including 30 from Russian flag carrier Aeroflot, and 10 from Italy's ItAli company. Notwithstanding programme delays and the impact of the economic crisis on short-term sales, the Superjet 100's demonstrated 12-14% reduction in direct operating costs makes it attractive to different customers and elevates it to the medium-haul passenger aircraft class. It is able to satisfy the emerging needs of airlines and will allow our company to better address the opportunities that will arise with the market revival. Weak signals [of recovery] are already visible in some world markets.

Superjet International aims to set up a worldwide Superjet 100 sales and support network. How is the ramp-up progressing?

The current headquarters and support team numbers around 160 people from 15 countries, mainly recruited from airlines and aircraft and engine support areas. We have established a Russian branch in Moscow, sales offices in Toulouse and Washington DC, as well as appointing a customer service representative in Beijing, China. We have selected Lufthansa Technik as our exclusive global logistics provider to manage the Superjet 100 spares distribution centres worldwide.

Currently housed at temporary facilities at Venice Marcon airport, the company's commercial, training, support and delivery infrastructures are expected to move into a completely new centre nearby with enhanced facilities, including an aircraft interiors "showroom" with an aircraft mock-up and "virtual display" capability. To be operational in less than two years from late 2009, it will allow deliveries of three aircraft a month from 2013.

How is SuperJet International preparing to support the Superjet 100's entry into service?

We are implementing a structural and personnel certification plan to be ready for entry into service. We received the first-stage flight training organisation approval from the Italian aeronautical civil authority ENAC in October last year, while Part 145 certification that will allow SuperJet International to carry out aircraft maintenance, completion and customisation activities was obtained in mid-April.

We are now working towards obtaining the EASA/ENAC Part 147 this month, necessary for training activities, and Design Organisation Approval, essential to design and develop the Superjet 100 VIP and cargo variants, by the end of 2009. Thanks to our training and maintenance certification for the Airbus A320, we can easily switch on the Superjet 100 as soon as it obtains Russian type certification, planned for November this year, followed by EASA certification in the second half of 2010. Activities on special aircraft versions are progressing with priority given to the corporate/VIP configuration, respectively planned to carry 30-34 and six to eight passengers with a complete range of VIP features.