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MAKS: Sukhoi reveals plan to slash Superjet cost

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft has unveiled a plan to reduce the cost of producing the Superjet by $2.6 million per aircraft by replacing Western suppliers with Russian manufacturers.

The move announced by United Aircraft (UAC) chief executive Yuri Slyusar at the MAKS air show is aimed at stabilising the programme’s costs amidst a year-old devaluation of the ruble compared to the dollar.

The Superjet is assembled by SCAC in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, but is packed with European and American technologies, ranging from B/E Aerospace passenger seats and lavatories, UTC electrical systems, Thales avionics and Parker Aerospace hydraulics.

As the value of the ruble has fallen by half against the dollar over the past two years, the cost of the Western-supplied equipment has more than doubled. That cost volatility has complicated SCAC’s attempts to stabilise the Superjet programme.

The Russian government stepped in earlier this year to pay off about $2 billion in debts owed by SCAC, which reduced the programme’s debt load to about $600 million. Meanwhile, state-owned lessor GLTK has signed a deal to buy 32 Superjets for delivery from 2015 to 2017, with options for another 28.

But the next step for Sukhoi is stabilise the programme’s cost structure, and that requires the company to switch to local suppliers that will receive payments in rubles rather than dollars.

Russian aerospace companies have long experience manufacturing major systems and electronics for military-rated aircraft, but are less known for participating in commercial programmes that require airworthiness certification from the US Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency to be marketable outside of Russia.

Slyusar, however, assures that Russian companies are “ready for this”.

One such supplier, Rostec holding Technodinamica, displayed several Russian-built alternatives to Western hardware at MAKS. Curtiss-Wright currently supplies the Superjet’s fire protection system, but has partnered with Technodinamica to offer a different version. It includes Curtiss-Wright’s fire detection system, with computers and fire retardant dispensing system provided by Technodinamica.

The plan is for Technodinamica and other Russian suppliers to take over certain systems as deliveries by Western companies reach minimum contractual guarantees, says Technodinamica chief executive Kuzyuk Maxim.

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