Boeing has roundly dismissed suggestions that it would pull out of its Russian Regional Jet partnership with Ilyushin and Sukhoi if national airline Aeroflot went ahead with a rumoured Airbus buy.
"Our long-term partnership is much more important than individual aircraft sales," declared Sergey Kravchenko, Boeing vice-president with responsibility for co-operative programmes and business development in Russia and the CIS. "We are delighted Ilyushin and Sukhoi asked us to participate in this programme and we will continue to work with them."
Speaking at a packed press conference, Kravchenko hammered home the point by recalling Monday's meeting between Sukhoi general director Michael Pogosyan and Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Alan Mulally.
"The very first meeting on Alan Mulally's schedule was with Mr Pogosyan," he said. "They talked for an hour and a half as engineers and business leaders about the future of the programme. A significant symbol, I would say."
Boeing's Russian vice-president spoke of the reaction of the company's technical specialists to what they had seen so far of work on the RRJ: "Our best product development people tell me that the airplane is looking very good."
He also reported that Boeing was forming a task group to study RRJ after-delivery support – "Something that Boeing does better than any other company in the world."
The three partners are currently at the feasibility-study stage, aiming to pin down the RRJ's main size and weight characteristics by this November.
Other milestones include powerplant selection and workshare distribution by year-end, and agreement on a preliminary production schedule and selection of component suppliers by the middle of next year.
Forecast demand for the 55-95-seat RRJ is 650 aircraft up to 2020, with the leading Russian and CIS carriers needing 150 up to 2010. Aeroflot has signed an MoU for 30 aircraft.
Source: Flight Daily News