MOSCOW, RUSSIA – According to Rosaviatsiya (Russia’s federal air transport agency), the Sukhoi Superjet 100 – a Russian made passenger aircraft – was selected by the United Nations to be used for the orginization’s peacekeeping missions. Last month the U.N. signed a contract with the Russian aircraft manufacturer, Reuters reports.
The Superjet’s short turbulent history
The Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft is the first Russian passenger jet since the fall of the Soviet Union. Although the Russian state spent billions of dollars into the Superjet program, the aircraft has had some troubles in its short life.
Last year for instance, a Superjet crashed during an emergency landing at Moscow Sheremetyevo Airport on May 5, killing 41 people, after the aircraft suffered a lightning strike shortly after takeoff.
The huge impact of the corona crisis will not make it easier either for the struggling Superjet.
Earlier this year, it became clear that there had been no confirmed orders for the Superjet 100, two sources told Reuters. Sukhoi only has a long-standing deal with Russia’s national carrier Aeroflot.
“We are currently finalising several contracts for stand-by, short term air transport services that could be used in support of our field operations –including peacekeeping,” U.N. peacekeeping spokesman Nick Birnback said.
“In March 2020, the first U.N. contract was received for using Sukhoi Superjet 100 planes to provide services for U.N. peacekeeping missions,” Rosaviatsiya said in a statement.
A Rosaviatsiya representative told Reuters that the U.N. deal was closed by Russian regional carrier Yakutia Airlines. However, Yakutia did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
United Nations’ aviation needs
The United Nations already uses the services of Russian Helicopters, a helicopter design and manufacturing company headquartered in Moscow. The company designs and manufactures civilian and military and proved its reliability by serving the U.N. Peacekeepers in harsh conditions in many parts of the world.
The United Nations uses a number of different vendors for its aviation needs – “Many of these contracts are for a standby capability that may or may not be required based on operational considerations,” a spokesman for the United Nations said to Reuters, after the news agency asked about the Superjet contract.
Sukhoi Superjet 100
The Sukhoi Superjet 100 or SSJ100 is a regional jet designed by Sukhoi, a division of the United Aircraft Corporation. Its development started in 2000. It made its maiden flight on May 19, 2008 and its 1st commercial flight on April 21, 2011 with Armavia, a former airline from Armania.
The 46–49 t (101,000–108,000 lb) plane typically seats 87 to 98 passengers and is powered by two 77 to 79 kN (17,000 to 18,000 lbf) PowerJet SaM146 turbofans, developed by a joint venture between French Safran and Russian NPO Saturn.
By May 2018, a total of 127 Superjets were in service and by September the fleet had logged 300,000 revenue flights and 460,000 hours. The plane has recorded 3 hull loss accidents and 86 deaths as of May 2019.