Irish regional airline CityJet plans to take delivery of the first 98-seat Sukhoi Superjet in March 2016, and a retrofitable winglet upgrade will be available by the end of 2017 as part of the sales agreement.

SuperJet International (SJI), the Alenia Aermacchi-Sukhoi joint venture responsible for marketing the regional airliner in Western markets, confirmed the timetable and contractual arrangement at the Dubai air show.

The CityJet commitment disclosed last month has redoubled sales efforts around the world. Mexican carrier Interjet's 19th Superjet is parked in the static display at Dubai.

SJI is continuing to finalise the sales contract with CityJet for a planned acquisition of 15 Superjets with 10 options. The deal is set to involve a still-undisclosed lessor which would provide the Superjets to CityJet.

"It was a quite tough competition. We competed with Embraer and Bombardier. In the end, they selected the Superjet 100," says SJI chief executive Nazario Cauceglia.

Among the terms in CityJet's agreement is a commitment by SJI to deliver a retrofitable winglet upgrade by the end of 2017, he says.

The fuel-saving winglet upgrade is one of several efficiency improvements planned by Sukhoi, Cauceglia adds. A team of engineers is also considering aerodynamic improvements and weight reductions to improve fuel efficiency, he says.

SJI also is awaiting a planned stretched version of the Superjet, with up to 135 seats, by 2020. The aircraft will be equipped with the same PowerJet SaM146 turbofan engines, but with a software change to improve thrust.

The Russian government has committed to a broad import substitution policy, exchanging Western suppliers with domestic sources as much as possible. That policy has been linked to the heavily Western-sourced Superjet programme.

But Cauceglia doubts that Russian suppliers will replace the Superjet's Western-built equipment, which includes the fly-by-wire system, landing gear, brakes, and part of the engine.

"I think it will be very very difficult to replace major component on this aircraft," he says. "As you know, we have the best Western suppliers, so it's difficult to imagine that we can replace these suppliers with brand-new [Russian sources]."

The delivery date has been corrected from 2015 to 2016

See all the latest news, analysis and opinion from the Dubai air show.

Source: Cirium Dashboard