Following shareholder approval for Aeroflot’s purchase of 30 Sukhoi RRJ-95s, the airline is demanding changes to the aircraft’s design to suit its specific needs, writes Vladimir Karnozov.

Describing the RRJ as “the only and the last hope for Russia’s aviation industry”, Aeroflot general director Valery Okulov says the airline “will make every effort to get it designed properly”.

Key to the demands is a reduction in take-off weight that would reduce the RRJ-95B’s range with 86 passengers from 3,120km (1,690nm) to 2,200km. The Russian flag-carrier also wants a cheaper interior and changes to the cockpit.

Aeroflot and Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC) are discussing the changes via seven working groups established to address aircraft configuration, aftersales support and training issues.

SCAC general director Victor Subbotin tells Flight International that he is reluctant to accept the demands as “the configuration of the operational prototypes has been frozen, their drawings completed and handed over to the plants for production”. He adds: “I do not see ways to reduce the RRJ’s empty weight at the moment.”

If the launch customer insists on changes, it will further delay entry into service, which is currently set for November 2008.

Subbotin says Scandinavian Airlines, “the most interested foreign carrier with a requirement for 22 aircraft”, and Alenia, which is seeking a 25% stake in SCAC, also want configuration changes, but he is “trying to convince them it is not really necessary”.

Sukhoi’s KnAAPO plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur is completing the first wingbox and starting assembly of fuselage and wing for the static test airframe, which will be completed by year end. The first flying prototype is due to be rolled out in the third quarter next year.

Source: Flight International