Few would disagree that past efforts to market Russian aircraft internationally have struggled when it came to passenger comfort and after-sales support. Sukhoi is taking steps to ensure that the same fate does not befall its Superjet 100 regional jet.

After-sales support is among functions Sukhoi has entrusted to Superjet International, a joint venture between the Russian airframer (49%) and Italy's Alenia Aeronautica (51%).

Superjet International is also responsible for marketing, sales, customisation and delivery of the jets in Europe, the Americas, Africa, Oceania and Japan, as well as development of VIP and cargo versions.

Earlier this month in Venice, Superjet International chief executive Alessandro Franzoni met his airlines advisory board to discuss the preparations his company is making to support the first deliveries of Superjet 100. The thorny subject of passenger comfort was also addressed, as Franzoni unveiled new interiors for the type.

Designed by Pininfarina Extra (part of the Italian automotive group Pininfarina), the interiors are said to be lighter - by around 300kg (660lb) - as well as cheaper and easier to maintain than the standard offering. Production launch is scheduled for September, pending final agreement between Sukhoi and Alenia.


The mock-up unveiled in Venice depicted the front section of a Superjet and assumed the following configuration: eight business-class seats 78 economy seats a double galley and one toilet in the forward entrance area another galley and two toilets in the aft and three attendant seats.

An all-economy version seating 98 (with two galleys, two toilets and two attendant seats) is also being developed. Cabin height measures 2.12m (6.9ft) and the aisle width is 51cm (20in). The seat pitches for business and economy, at 36in and 32in respectively, are claimed to be among the largest ever on a regional or narrowbody aircraft.

"The interiors have been designed not only considering weight, cost and maintainability, but also passenger comfort," says Francesco Lovo, director of research and development at Pininfarina Extra.

Passenger comfort was defined to include not just "biomechanical and biometric comfort", but also visual comfort. "The passenger's first impression and requirements are considered key enablers to provide more comfort, relaxation and efficiency compared with aircraft in the same category," says Lovo.

He says "exclusive Italian design" is evident in "the elegant shapes of the stowage bins and the side panels" and "the comfortable forms of the seats", while "a fresh Mediterranean spirit" influenced selections of colour, material and finish.

"The variable colour LED light system provided by Goodrich for the indirect lighting of side and ceiling panels gives a dynamic cabin atmosphere adjustable to optimise passenger comfort in each moment of the flight," says Lovo.

"Furthermore, a very welcoming entrance featuring a curved and indirectly lighted ceiling has been introduced as a new approach for regional jets."

Where cold functionality once dominated in Russian aircraft design, a radically different attitude is prevailing at Sukhoi. Confidence is high: the company is targeting a 15% share of the global regional jet market by 2024.

Gearing up

Aeroflot is to receive its first Superjet 100 in mid-2009, with deliveries to Western launch customer ItAli Airlines following in the first half of 2010.

In the meantime, Superjet International is making extensive preparations. Operations will be moved to Venice's Tessera airport within two years.

According to Franzoni, the move will require investment of around c25 million ($38.4 million) and a fivefold increase in its employee numbers, from 90 to 450.

Superjet International's operations will not be confined to Venice. There are plans to open a training and spares-distribution centre in Russia, a worldwide network of authorised aircraft MRO services, and a Western spares distribution centre in Europe. Sales offices in Toulouse and Washington DC will complement a branch office in Moscow.

Where is the Superjet's next Western order coming from? Franzoni says that question will be answered at Farnborough.

AirSpace gallery - Sukhoi Superjet 100 

Source: Flight International