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Sukhoi Civil Airliners - The Rolls Royce of Archipelagos

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JAKARTA. (RIA Novosti's Mikhail Tsyganov) - Sukhoi civil airliners are likely to become for the world's biggest archipelagos - Indonesia and the Philippines - what the Rolls Royce is for car enthusiasts. Especially so after the recent incidents involving budget airlines' planes in Indonesia.

"Oh no, we are not claiming to be Rolls Royce - we'll settle for Mercedes," smiled Vadim Razumovsky, deputy director general of the Sukhoi Aviation Holding Company in an exclusive interview with RIA Novosti.

We sat just three meters away from the model of the new regional Sukhoi Superjet-100, which attracted much attention at the international INDO DEFENCE 2006 exhibition held in Jakarta last November.

In spite of his modesty, the Rolls Royce still comes to mind because when that company, a manufacturer of airplane engines, moved to cars they started to symbolize the very best. In the same way, Sukhoi, renowned as the manufacturer of one of the world's best fighter jets, has a chance to vie for its laurels in passenger aircraft.

Razumovsky said: "Passengers will enjoy all possible comforts on board this aircraft. This is the first plane of this size to be designed in the 21st century."

Sukhoi's engine - the Superjet-100 - has no equals. "This Russian-French joint project will produce the first newly developed engine for airliners of this size in the last 30 to 40 years. Its design takes into account current fuel prices, which means that the engine will consume 10% to 15% less fuel than its counterparts," Razumovsky explained.

This feature is of major importance in view of the tough competition among budget air companies in South East Asia, which are trying to make flights between thousands of islands affordable to every resident.

Moreover, the Sukhoi-100 is relatively small and could be used whenever larger airliners would be a waste of money. It can carry 100 passengers a distance of up to 4,000 km. Razumovsky calls it Sukhoi's best civilian project. In addition, the Russian company will also sell local Indonesian airlines its multipurpose turbo prop Su-80GP, seating from 30 to 40 people, and the Be-103 six-seat amphibian aircraft.

Sukhoi is the designer and producer of the world's best combat aircraft, and it may seem strange that it launched production of civilian planes. But it is only logical that it has developed the Sukhoi-100 Superjet, whose weight is comparable to that of military planes. In addition, the company's unique experience will come in handy for civilian aviation.

"Importantly, in producing civilian airliners we are going to use the same spare parts that are used by Boeings and Airbuses. We will also adopt the standard worldwide system of after-sale service," Razumovsky added.

But Sukhoi is not going to leave the familiar regional market of combat aircraft. Its prospects are very good, considering that Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Moscow voiced his firm intention to buy more Russian fighters. "We hope that his visit to Russia will give a new boost to our contacts, as it did in the past," Razumovsky said.

"In the near future we'll complete the development of the Su-35 Flanker, which belongs to the 'fourth plus' generation of fighter planes," he added. "We hope that it will become the main aircraft sold to Asia-Pacific and other countries before true fifth-generation fighters appear on the market."

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