Superjet International has officially inaugurated its Venice-Tesera completions facility for the Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional aircraft as it gears up to deliver 20 aircraft to Interjet, the type's first international customer, over the next two years.

Speaking at a ceremony at the facility on 19 October to mark the start of work on Interjet's first airframe - MSN 95023 - Carmelo Cosentino, president and chairman of Superjet International, said it is scheduled to deliver nine aircraft to the Mexican carrier in 2013 and a further 11 the following year. The airline's second airframe, from a 2011 order for 20 SSJ100s with 10 options, will arrive before the end of the year, he said.

A full-flight simulator will be added to the site in November, with pilot training commencing in January 2013, says Nazario Cauceglia, chief executive officer of Superjet International. Instruction of ground, maintenance and cabin staff will be carried out in parallel, he adds.

Interjet's SSJ100s will be configured in a single-class layout with 93 seats.

Other customers to receive their first aircraft in the first quarter of next year include Sky Aviation, Lao Central and Yakutia Airlines, says Vladimir Prisyazhnjuk, president of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, the Sukhoi and Alenia Aermacchi joint venture which builds the SSJ100.

"This aircraft program is a priority and strategic programme for us, where we will continue to invest," says Giuseppe Giordo, chief executive of Alenia Aermacchi, confirming the company's support for the programme.

"Our partnership with Sukhoi is stronger than ever," he adds.

Mikhail Pogosyan, president of Sukhoi parent United Aircraft, says the airframer is working to certificate and deliver the first longer-range variant to Russia's Gazpromavia in July next year. This boasts a range of 2,470nm (4,580km), an increase over the baseline model's 1,645nm. A more powerful model of PowerJet SaM146 engine to support the variant has already obtained certification from both the Russian and European authorities.

A decision to launch a VIP version of the type is also due next year, ahead of planned delivery in 2014, says Giordo.

The facility at Venice can handle three aircraft simultaneously, but Superjet International may look to enlarge the site to cope with anticipated growth. It sees a market for between 80-100 aircraft over the next 20 years.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news