A Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 demonstrator aircraft with more than 40 people on board went missing south of Jakarta, Indonesia during a demonstration flight today.
The aircraft lost was the third prototype built: MSN 95004, registration 97004, an SSJ100-95 model.
The aircraft vanished from radar around the Bogor area. It was on the second of two demonstration flights. The aircraft took off at 2 pm (0700 GMT) from Jakarta’s Halim Perdanakusuma airport on a flight around the immediate region. Police, military and rescue workers were beginning a search for the aircraft and any survivors.
The exact number of persons on board is unclear, but most reports indicated 46 persons. Russia’s RIA Novosti news agency reported 36 non-Russians on board and eight Russians, four of them crew and the others Sukhoi company representatives.
According to the Sukhoi website, the aircraft was on a “Welcome Asia” tour, piloted by the program’s chief test pilot Alexander Yablontsev and co-pilot Alexander Kochetkov. After the Jakarta visit, the plane was scheduled to visit Laos and Vietnam. It had already made stops in Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Myanmar as part of its sales tour in the region.
A list of 36 passenger names posted at Halim airport revealed that most of the passengers were Indonesian airline and aviation officials, with five journalists and a representative of French aircraft engine maker SNECMA on board as well..
The Superjet is a joint venture between Sukhoi and Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica. The Superjet 100 is designed to carry up to 98 passengers and competes with Embraer and Bombardier in the 80-100 seat regional jet market.
The aircraft is currently operated by Aeroflot and Armavia, although the program is holding orders from other airlines. The first commercial flight for the type was operated by Armavia in April 2011 and Aeroflot followed later in 2011. It is understood that Kartika Airlines and Sky Aviation have both placed orders for the Superjet.
The Superjet has experienced some difficulties while being flown by Aeroflot. The first aircraft delivered spent several weeks grounded upon delivery because of an air conditioning problem, and in March of 2012, an aircraft had problems with its landing gear.
The total in-service fleet as of May 2012 is seven aircraft.