Moscow, Russia - After the recent deadly crash at Sheremetyevo airport, the image of Sukhoi Superjet worsened worldwide. Since its launch, the 95-seat regional jet of Russian Sukhoi was suffering from lack of demand from international customers.
The cause of the crash is still unclear. In 2012, another SSJ100 had crashed in Indonesia due to pilot error. After the second accident, more than 86 deaths are now associated with the aircraft that entered service in 2011.
The Russian authorities announced that there was no reason to drop the aircraft program or ground the SSJ100s for review. But in addition to the lack of spare parts that the operators frequently complain, and the high operating costs of the aircraft, the image of the Sukhoi's SSJ100 was worsened than ever by this accident.
Only a few months ago Valentina Matvienko, Chairman of the Federation Council, had questioned the program.
"Why do we build a plane that nobody needs?" Matvienko said, and she criticized that many SSJ100 Superjets were on the ground due to technical problems.
An online campaign to ground the SSJ100s until the cause of the accident was cleared had more than 140,000 signatures. But the mood in politics is combative.
The Russian aircraft manufacturer has a new leadership since April. The new management is supported by President Vladimir Putin, who thinks that more money should be invested in development to replace western parts used in the production of the aircraft.
The Russian manufacturer was aiming to collect more than 800 orders by 2024 when it launched the Superjet program. Of these, 500 were expected to be placed from foreign airline operators.
But due to technical problems, lack of replacement engines and other spare parts, doubts about the quality of the components, the manufacturer is far behind this goal. Sukhoi has so far been able to sell the aircraft, mostly to the domestic operators with the support of the Russian government.
The Mexican airline Interjet, the largest operator of the jet abroad with 22 aircraft wants no further copies because of inadequate technical support from Sukhoi.
The only European operator of the plane Irish CityJet wants to hand over its scrapped SSJ100s to Adria Airways in Slovenia.
As a result, out of a total of 138 Sukhoi Superjet operating worldwide, 105 aircraft are flying for Russian airlines, most notably with Aeroflot, the largest operator of the type. Foreign counterparts had twice as much flight time in the Aeroflot's fleet, which has the 50 SSJ100s in service and 50 on order.
Government incentives seemed so far to be the only reason for Russian airlines to order the aircraft.