By Graham Dunn in London

Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica has signed a contract firming up its strategic partnership with Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, which includes its Finmeccanica unit taking a 25% stake in the Russian Regional Jet manufacturer.

It follows last year’s memorandum of understanding between Finmeccanica and Sukhoi on planned co-operation on the Russian Regional Jet (RRJ) programme, and the signing of a preliminary deal in April.

Under the partnership Alenia will take a 25%-plus-one-share stake in Sukhoi Civil Aircraft – subject to Russian Government approval – and a corresponding financial stake in the development of the RRJ programme.

Finmeccanica adds: “With the aim of furthering the prospects of the RRJ on the European and US markets, the programme partners will set up a joint venture, based in Europe, to look after the legal aspects of sales and technical support for the new aircraft.”

It adds that Alenia will also contribute to the development of the RRJ programme through its own technical specialists based in Russia.

Alenia’s team will produce components and systems, handle the certification of aircraft under European standards and manage aspects such as purchasing, sales and technical support for airlines.

First flight of the RRJ, which will initially comprise 75- and 95-seat versions, is set for September 2007. Certification will follow just over a year later, ahead of entry into service in November 2008.

Source: Flight International