Archive for March 25th, 2008

Sukhoi Superjet Also Delayed

It seems like no new aircraft in the 21st century can be developed according to the first announced schedules. Following the almost 2 year delay of the Airbus A380 superjumbo which had wiring problems and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which is facing a still growing delay due to supply chain problems in the production of the composite airframe (originally it was planned to be delivered in about two months to its launch customer – but still has not ever taken off…) here are the latest news about the Russian Sukhoi Superjet being delayed…

Sukhoi Superjet Revealed - by Reuters

As we reported earlier, the Sukhoi Superjet was revealed on 26SEP2007, when they claimed the rolled out aircraft was basically ready to fly about two months later. Back then on the ceremony it was announced that “the first flight will take place before the year end,” and they have also pointed out that they are on schedule, unlike the above mentioned A380 or the 787… Then came the news yesterday, that the Russian manufacturer announced: “Technical problems will postpone delivery of the first Sukhoi Superjet indefinitely.”

First deliveries to launch customer Aeroflot originally were slated to begin by late 2008. Aeroflot has already removed the Tupolev Tu-134 aircraft from service to make room for the first SSJ’s to arrive which are due to replace the aging mid-sized airplane. “The airplane is currently in the final testing stages and it will make its first flight within a month,” Alexei Fyodorov, CEO of United Aircraft Building Corp., told RIA Novosti. “Our specialists are working round the clock to meet our obligations to contractors.” We can only hope that this “within a month” will now be real, as it is crucial for the SSJ to show a positive image to the World Market, that it plans to conquer. Airbus and Boeing are stronger and larger players to manage such delays, but for Sukhoi being a new entrant, it is very important to show professionalism to its (future) customers. To date, the 78 and 98 seat version aircraft has collected 73 firm orders and 46 options, mostly from Russian customers.

If we think about it a little more, these delays even sound understandable, as the aircraft market today sells planes for deliveries in 5-6 or even more years down the road. All manufacturers are therefore pressured to announce a new plane as soon as possible with as soon delivery dates as possible, in order to not lose possible customers. If you announce a certain date and then are forced to pay a penalty, it’s still better than losing the whole business to another plane which is already on the market, or has promised an even earlier delivery date… This way at least you do have the business. Tough competition and not normal market conditions have led to this stage, but it’s the airline customers that go into a more and more uncertain future with such an emerging tendency. They need to plan fleet strategies, networks and even schedules ahead – when counting with the new airplanes which are then delivered only a few years late…

It will be interesting to follow the developments of the new Chinese Regional Jet, the Japanese Mitsubishi Regional Jet as well as the new Bombardier C-Ceries – will they be on schedule with their new programs or can we make a new rule: “New Aircraft development projects in the 21st century are always behind schedule”?

by balint01

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