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Sukhoi Civil Aircraft launched a new aircraft concept for its ­SuperJet 100 at Farnborough yesterday, aimed squarely at the vast and lucrative sports team ­transport market.

The SportJet is the third aircraft in Sukhoi’s line-up, which currently ­features a commercial airliner and business jet variant of the SJ100.

Certification and service entry of this latest model are earmarked for 2018, coinciding with the FIFA World Cup tournament – to be hosted by Russia –and two years ahead of the Olympic Games in Toyko, Japan.

“The SportJet is a sweet piece of our overall sales strategy,” said Sukhoi Civil Aircraft’s senior vice president of commerce, Evgeny Andrachnikov, at the show. “There is nothing else like it on the market today and the potential demand is huge,” adds Andrachnikov, pointing to the $1 billion value of the global sport air transportation market.

SuperJet SJ100 interior


“It is common for established ­airlines to fly teams on a dedicated charter service,” Andrachnikov ­continues. “Delta flies 27 out of the 30 NBA teams with 13 dedicated aircraft, while United Airlines transports the MLB and NFL teams.”

Other elite sports charter aircraft for their athletes, but these services are typically not tailored to sportsmen and women, he says.

“Apart from the time saving by being able to connect via VIP airport terminals or FBOs, there is nothing special about chartering an aircraft for this purpose,” Andrachnikov says. “Travelling can be tiring, which places you at a disadvantage when playing an away match. We plan to change all that.”

The SportJet is divided into four zones. The first area is for the main team and is equipped with “smart seats” – so called because they have exceptional levels of comfort and come equipped with medical gadgetry monitor the athlete during the flight.

The second area is a recovery/medical zone featuring a physiotherapy table and treadmill, while the third zone is for the coaches and the fourth for supporting personnel and administration staff.

“In elite sports, where fractions of seconds and inches are of ­decisive importance, every detail matters in affecting the physique and morale of athletes,” Andrachnikov says.

Sukhoi is confident there will be a strong demand for the SportJet, and is now in talks with Russia’s huge hockey league, which consists of 29 clubs. “If we can sell the aircraft to a major league like this, it will open many doors to the SportJet,” Andrachnikov says.

A cabin mock-up of the ­aircraft will be on display during the forthcoming Olympic Games in Brazil.

Source: Flight Daily News