French finance minister Nikolas Sarkozy has confirmed the French government will provide about €250 million ($300 million) in "soft" (low-interest, state-backed) loans to fund development of the Snecma/Rybinsk Motors-Saturn SaM146, a new turbofan planned to power the Sukhoi/Boeing Russian Regional Jet (RRJ).

Following Sibir's order for 50 of the 2,000-6,000km (1,000-3,250nm) -range 55- to 95-seaters, the Russian government has also confirmed its commitment to the programme by saying it will offer "budgetary, taxation and customs support", but has not specified what these might entail.

Sukhoi is a rare example of a successful aviation industry in Russia - strong sales of the Su-27 family of advanced interceptors have given it access to cash not enjoyed by other design houses or manufacturers. With design now in the final stages, the RRJ should make its first flight in 2005.



Source: Flight International