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CLARA MOSCHINI

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Superjet 100 aircraft: the great rejection by the western market

But what are the reasons for the failure that led to the exit by Finmeccanica/Leonardo from the Italian-Russian jv?

In light of the recent tragic airplane crash in Moscow it would seem easy to download the causes that determined it to the machine. But in these cases it is good practice to stick to a prudent expectation of the results by the competent committees at work. The videos of the incident show the violent impact of the aircraft on the runway that could have had other consequences if the structure of the plane would have had deficiencies in design, strength and resistance.

Here are some key points that allow a more in-depth analysis of the topic, developed also from internal managerial information, which have followed the project since the initial phase.

Airplane with 98 seats adapted to the needs of the market in the years 2000/2020. Range of over 3000 km, low consumption and noise, better interior spaces than competitors (Embraer, Bombardier).

Aircraft developed with Boeing and the French electronics industry Thales. Sam 146 engine specially developed for SSJ-100, a collaboration between the French Snecma and the Russian Saturn.

High market expectations, 1200 aircraft in 20 years. This is the reason why the two governments decided to create Superjet International (51% Finmeccanica, 49% Sukhoi) after the direct participation in SCAC by Finmeccanica (25% + 1 share) to support the launch of the first Russian civil aircraft after the World War II, ready for the western market. Superjet International (SJI) responsibility consisted of Western certification, internal fittings for new non-Russian markets, changes for VIP, corporate, logistics, certified training of flight personnel and sales responsibility in the Western market.

The first criticalities appeared immediately on the occasion of the promotion to the respective flag companies. Aeroflot was very shy in accepting the aircraft, for the custom of operating with foreign producers. While Alitalia had a hostile attitude in taking on the role as launch customer, despite the presence by Finmeccanica. It chose the Embraer competitor aircraft.

The difficulties then continued when SJI showed no interest in pursuing all its activities. Logistics activity outsourced, delegation to the partner of all modification activities for the transformations, training activities partially sold to the partner and from this to Aeroflot.

The recent sales of the aircraft to Interjet and City Jet, totalling no more than 30 units, were affected by the above mentioned difficulties.

Following the progressive disengagement by SJI, Finmeccanica, now Leonardo, decided to drastically reduce its participation and effectively abandon the project, in which it no longer considered seeing the negative results both in SCAC and in SJI obtained in about 12 years of activity. The choice was natural and logical, given the results.

Today we can say that a strong political agreement between two governments is not enough and of two major aeronautical companies, united in achieving what appears to be a strategic and successful program, the managerial coherence capable of pursuing is essential, without too many second thoughts and alternative choices, the project started.

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