Moscow - Aeroflot wants to become the first customer of the new civil supersonic aircraft that Russia is planning to develop.
Forty years after Tupolev 144, the Russian state-owned company is thinking again of a supersonic aircraft.
It would be a good thing if Aeroflot was allowed to become the first customer. We would be happy to receive a supersonic aircraft,told Vitaly Savelyev the CEO of Aeroflot.
These are not random words in an ordinary conversation. In January, Russian President Vladimir Putin attended a demonstration flight of a modernized version of the supersonic Bomber Tupolev 160 and suggested the development of a civilian version.
Yuri Slyusar, the head of United Aircraft Corporation
(UAC), a state-owned conglomerate of Tupolev and other major Russian aviation companies, said the project for a civilian supersonic aircraft was under consideration.
Aeroflot is already one of the few airlines to have operated a supersonic aircraft. The Tupolev Tu-144 flew on its regular routes for a short period of time, between 1977 and 1978.
However, it was used to transport cargo until 1983. Its competitor, the Concorde, flew until 2003, but the two planes have never met the expected success.
According to the Aeroflot's boss, these devices, which proved to be unprofitable, were born too early. Vitaly Savelyev now sees the opportunity to develop an economically viable supersonic passenger aircraft thanks to new technologies and composite materials.
Several supersonic aircraft projects are currently being studied by some companies. Boom Technology, Aeron, Spike, Lockheed Martin and even NASA are working on different development projects.
Faced with these all American projects, Aeroflot seems determined to support the Russian industry. The company already demonstrated its commitment to the Russian Aerospace Industry by becoming the best customer of the Irkut MC-21 and Sukhoi SSJ100.
Moreover, the Russian company is not the only one to be interested in a supersonic airplane. Last December, Japan Airlines (JAL) announced a $10 million investment in Boom, with an option to acquire 20 units. The Qatar Airway CEO Al Akber Baker recently stated that his company might consider to include supersonic jets in its fleet.