Russia's state aerospace agency Rosaviakosmos has chosen the Sukhoi-led Russian Regional Jet (RRJ) over the Tupolev Tu-414 and Myasishchev M-60-70 to meet its requirement for a new regional jet. The RRJ consortium includes Boeing, Ilyushin and Yakovlev.

Meanwhile, Boeing has firmed up its participation in the project, with AVPK Sukhoi general director Mikhail Pogosyan and Boeing Commercial Airplanes president Alan Mulally signing "a long-term agreement on the RRJ" in Seattle, Washington, earlier this month.

The RRJ bid is understood to have faced stiff competition from the Tu-414, a stretched 70- to 80-seat version of the 50-seat Tu-324. The Tu-324 has already been allocated 1.2 billion roubles ($38 million) from Russia's state budget, and Tupolev lobbied Rosaviakosmos heavily arguing it has already completed the bulk of development work on Tu-324.

According to the terms of an October 2002 Russian government agreement, the RRJconsortium can expect to benefit from state funding of 1.5 billion roubles between 2006 and 2015, on condition that commercial sources provide the balance of the estimated 3.8 billion rouble total development cost. Separately the government has allocated 2 billion roubles between 2003 and 2015 for development of a jet engine, which is expected to cost a total of 4.9 billion roubles. The RRJ project will also benefit from state funding for development of the IKBO-2003 and IKBO-2005 avionics systems.

Rosaviakosmos is thought to be pushing the Russian government to make funding for the RRJ available earlier than 2005, possibly by diverting funds from a 6.7 billion rouble allocation until 2015 for a new 140-seat medium-range jet.

The Snecma/NPO Saturn SM146, based on Snecma's Dem 21 core demonstrator, is understood to be the lead candidate as RRJ's powerplant, over the Pratt & Whitney Canada/Aviadvigatel PW800 (Flight International, 21-27 January).

Sukhoi is planning three RRJ variants, the 55-seat RRJ-60, the 75-seat RRJ-75 and the 95-seat RRJ-95, all of which could be offered in basic and long-range variants. The RRJ-75 is to enter service in January 2007. The RRJconsortium estimates the market at 630 aircraft by 2022, including 150 for CIS airlines. Aeroflot has already signed for 30 RRJs.

Source: Flight International