An Indonesian air carrier has delayed the delivery of 30 Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft following Wednesday’s plane crash, according to Indonesian media reports.
Arifin Seman, the commissioner of Kartika Airlines, said the Jakarta-based carrier would wait until Russian aircraft maker Sukhoi investigates the cause of the incident.
However Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, which produced and developed the Superjet-100, says it has not received any official notification from the carrier, a source in the Russian air company told news agency Itar-Tass.
Fitch Ratings agency expects the crash of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 to negatively affect orders for the aircraft in the short term, but not the 'BB'/Stable rating of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, the plane's manufacturer.
“It’s not good news of course, we don’t know the cause of the crash yet. But the real problem with the legacy of Russian aviation is in the engineering or the quality of the product. It’s the image of safety. The quicker they can clear up this issue, hopefully proving that it has nothing to do with the aircraft itself, the better off they’ll be. Right now they are suffering under the overhang of that perception of safety problems and this is a very unfortunate event”, says Richard Aboulafia from Teal Group Corporation.
Though a crash is always a blow to an air company's reputation, aviation market experts agree this is unlikely to seriously affect Sukhoi’s business.
“I do not think the crash will lead to a decrease in sales as long as the accident becomes known very quickly, and the company are very open and transparent with the results of what went wrong. If it is not a failure of the airplane, but something that happened due to pilots or weather etc, this will make it a non-issue. If it’s a structural deficiency they have to be open and tell the truth to potential clients, including what they will do to make sure it is fixed and will never happen again”, says Stan Wraight, Managing Partner at Strategic Aviation Solutions.
Three officials of Kartika Airlines, including the company’s operational chief were on board when the plane went missing near Mount Salak in West Java at 2:33 pm local time on Wednesday. A rescue helicopter finally discovered the missing plane at 9:15 the next morning on a slope of Mount Salak in Bogor, West Java, at a height of 5,500 feet above sea level.
Kartika Airlines, which became the first company in Southeast Asia to purchase the new Superjet 100, had agreed to order 30 planes in a $951 million deal in 2010.
The first delivery was scheduled for September this year. Kartika Airlines, Sky Aviation and Queen Air are among dozens of airlines to have emerged in Indonesia in the last decade to satisfy the growing demand for cheap air travel, having ordered a total of at least 48 Sukhoi planes.
According to Sukhoi company, they secured around 170 orders in total as a more attractive price and lower operating costs are giving Russian aircraft a competitive advantage over Brazil's Embraer and Canada's Bombardier. Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation with a fast-growing middle class, is already one of the biggest customers.
The Superjet project is a joint venture between Sukhoi and Italy's Alenia Aeronautica, part of the aerospace and defense giant Finmeccanica. The producers of the jet aim to sell 800 planes by 2029 and take 15% of the global jet market.
There are only 8 Superjets in service worldwide so far – most of them used by Russia’s Aeroflot, which tweeted it will not stop using Sukhoi Superjet 100 commercial jetliners. "All the SSJ100 planes are examined daily and perform flights on schedule," the airline’s Twitter said.
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