Sukhoi aims to secure Russian certification for its Su-80 30-seat utility aircraft in the second quarter of 2008, and deliver 14 aircraft that year.

The prototype Su-80 flew in 2001, and on 29 June the first stretched aircraft built to production configuration at Sukhoi's KnAAPO plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur flew for the first time. The aircraft has completed nine test flights and is being transferred to the Sukhoi design bureau's flight test division.

A further 18 flights will be operated from the KnAAPO plant ahead of the Su-80 being ferried to Gromov's Flight Test and Research Institute (LII) in Zhukovsky near Moscow for the certification programme.

The production configuration has a 1.4m (4.6ft) fuselage stretch just aft of the cockpit to boost passenger seating from 24 to 30. It also has revised avionics from ElectroAvtomatika with five 6 x 8in (150 x 205mm) LCD screens, new flight-control and air conditioning systems, as well as extended horizontal stabiliser.

KnAAPO has assembled a second production Su-80, which is due to fly in November. This has a new interior developed by Kharkov-based InterAMI. The interior is similar to that of an Antonov An-140. The third Su-80 is expected to be ready to fly in January.

This slow-moving programme has received a revival in interest due to the recent rise in fuel prices that have rendered the similarly sized Yakovlev Yak-40 trijet uneconomical. Yakutsk-based Polar Airlines has signed for seven Su-80s, which are due to be delivered via Finance Leasing. Petropavlovsk Air Enterprise, Khabarovsk Airlines and Russia's Sukhoi see China as a major overseas market and an outline agreement has been signed for a Sino-Russian joint venture that would assemble Su-80s in southern China from KnAAPO kits.

© Vladimir Karnozov   
The first production standard Su-80 has made nine flights

Source: Flight International