A twist in the tale of the Sukhoi SuperJet 100

Dubai-based Mark AB Capital Investment (Mark AB) has acquired its entire stake in SuperJet International from Russia's United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) which manages the SuperJet 100 regional jet programme.

Picture: SuperJet International

Superdeal: The MoU signing for a state-of-the-art facility in Al Ain opens the way for assembly of the SuperJet 100. Picture: SuperJet International

Will this acquisition enable the United Arab Emirates to finally get this regional plane take off? The Relaunch Plan drawn up in the wake of this deal looks like a good omen for the aircraft.

"This agreement has a great value for our company, as the interruption of industrial and commercial relations with UAC will allow the company to no longer be burdened by the limitations resulting from the sanctioning regulations set by the European Union", said Camillo Perfido CEO of SJI.

The SSJ100 entered into service in 2011 by Sukhoi in collaboration with the Italian Finmeccanica and various manufacturers including the Safran group, Leonardo and Thales. It had around fifteen operators mainly Russians : Aerosflot, Armavia or Rossiya. Cityjet (Europe) and Interjet (Mexico) operated the SSJ100 internationally.

Seven years later, the SSJ100 was struggling to find customers beyond Russia in a competitive market. The accident which occurred in 2019 during a forced landing at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow gave a severe blow to the commercial future of this regional aircraft.

The outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war sidelined the SSJ 100 on the international market. In March 2022, EASA suspended the certificates of several Russian aircraft including the SSJ100 and future applications such as the Irkut MC- 21.  The sanctions includes russian aircraft and airline access in Europe as well as spare parts and flight simulators produced in Russia.

The Italian government has also frozen €146 million of SJI’s assets, including four SSJ 100-95s.

The entry of the new shareholder, and the unfreezing of SJI's shares and assets, represent mandatory prerequisites according to SJI, without which the Relaunch Plan cannot be implemented.

This Relaunch Plan scribed by SJI and Mark Capital AB envisions investments of € 190 million, of which €110 million at the Venice site. This investment will support the development of new aircraft configurations, the construction of the new SJI branch in the UAE, as well as the continuous development of the aircraft to address market competition.

Sales forecasts are estimated to be 240 aircraft at a minimum, in different versions: passenger, business jet and cargo, mainly for the UAE and Indian markets.

Abu Dhabi Investment Office is leading the collaboration with Mark AB Capital Investment and SuperJet International at an industrial level to uphold the development of the civil aviation industry in the UAE.  A state-of-the-art facility in Al Ain, Abu Dhabi and transfer of know how and technologies underpin the plan.

According to the MoU signed between the parties last May,SJI will establish a new Final Assembly Line for regional aircraft in Al Ain by mid-2025. In parallel, SJI will set up a new supply-chain for aerostructure work packages in Italy and the UAE by 2026.

Information gathered in the press show that Russia is investing in a 100% Russian regional aircraft like the SSJ 100 by replacing all the parts and subassemblies resulting from Western manufacturers cooperation.

Markab Capital will also help in training and capacity building of UAE nationals in the civil aviation industry as part of its strategy. The UAE aviation industry is gradually gaining momentum. Government initiatives and investment in the aerospace industry is driving robust demand for business partnerships and helping the UAE outpace other regional markets.

The UAE has successfully manufactured aircraft components and is entering a new era in assembling, installing and aircraft manufacturing.

Anuradha Deenapanray

Anuradha Deenapanray

Anuradha is a francophone editor for African and Arabian Aerospace magazines.