Sukhoi has received a major boost for its Superjet 100 (SSJ) regional jet with a $400 million order from the KrasAir-led AirUnion alliance for 15 aircraft and a follow-up deal from DalAvia expected soon.

Deliveries to AirUnion are expected to begin in 2009 and run at one aircraft a month. The group had previously committed to the rival Antonov An-148 regional jet, but AirUnion president Aleksand Abramovich says the change of mind follows "a chain of events that makes it difficult to foresee when an operational version of the An-148 will appear on the market".

The two parties are yet to agree funding for the order, although Ilyushin Finance (IFC) is expected to support the deal. Sukhoi Civil Aircraft president Victor Subbotin says that if the airline cannot find the resources, "Sukhoi will help the customer raise the funding". He adds: "If we do not find a suitable lessor in Russia, we will look for a foreign solution." An SSJ order from DalAvia is expected by the end of 2006.

Meanwhile, Sukhoi denies it is in talks with Iran over an SSJ deal despite Iran's Aviation Industries Organisation deputy head Abbas Fallah saying the SSJ is being considered, along with the An-148 and Tupolev Tu-334, in the competition for a 100-seat jet for production in Iran.

Because the SSJ contains significant US content and technology, Subbotin says Sukhoi will not offer the twinjet to Iran "until such time as the USA and Iran have reached an agreement between themselves" about the trade embargo. He adds: "We are not participating in any tenders there and are not going to submit any offers to Iran soon."

Antonov and Tupolev have confirmed their intent to offer their newest designs - the An-148 and Tu-334, respectively - for production in Iran.

Source: Flight International