It was back in August 2012 that Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), the manufacturer of the Sukhoi Superjet, announced its plans to build a new airliner intended to bridge the gap between the Superjet and the larger MS-21 airliner which was then in development. At the time, UAC had orders for 300 civil aircraft and 278 military aircraft. UAC also made it abundantly clear their intentions were to create a major international alliance of aircraft-makers including companies from a range of countries. “The foremost partner could be India, which would provide access to the growing Indian market,” UAC’s CEO, Mikhail Pogosyan, said. In addition, he stated that “We are considering an airliner with 130-140 seats as halfway between the Sukhoi Superjet with 110-115 seats and MS-21 with 150-200 seats”. Russia was already developing joint projects to construct military aircraft with India, these to include both the T-50 fighter and MTA transport aircraft program.
Today (Thursday) UAC’s new President, Yury Slyusar, has made it clear that Russia was now considering assembling a Sukhoi Superjet regional jet in India to take full advantage of lower production costs. “We are looking at domestic production (in India) to help reduce the final price of the aircraft,” he confirmed, adding that this move would support Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” campaign. However there is no confirmation that an actual agreement has been reached.
Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), the Indian state-owned company, operates the only complete aircraft production facility in India, though other companies including Reliance Group Tata Sons, and Mahindra & Mahindra have shown an interest in moving into the industry. National Aerospace Laboratories, the state-owned research agency, and HAL have, over recent years, worked independently to develop a Regional Transport Aircraft capable of carrying in the region of 100 passengers.
UAC officials also confirmed that they had started working with China on the initial design of a proposed 250 – 280 seat wide-body aircraft. Full-scale development of this is anticipated to commence in 2016 and scheduled to enter service in 2025 or thereabouts, and ideally targeting a market currently dominated by the Airbus A330 and A350, and Boeing’s 787.