“We can capture almost 100 aircraft in the business aviation market,” CEO of Superjet International (SJI) Nazario Cauceglia told AIN. He spoke during his visit to JetExpo’2014, where the company was showing the first full example of its new Sukhoi Business Jet (SBJ)–a VIP version of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 airliner. “This is a very important moment for the program, the aircraft and the industrial partnership built around it,” Cauceglia said. “It is also an important event for business aviation, worldwide.” While there is no shortage of regional jets with VIP counterparts (though not mentioned by name, the Embraer Lineage 1000 was an implied example), Cauceglia said his SBJ has distinct advantages.
He started with the Sukhoi’s larger fuselage cross section and the corresponding greater cabin volume. “Don’t forget that this is a 100-passenger-class jet with nominal five-abreast seating. That’s why the unique cross section. No other in-production regional jets have that–they are all narrower.” In Cauceglia’s view, the Superjet offers “a comparable comfort level to the top-tier narrow body airliners” by which he meant the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737NG.
Asked to compare the SBJ with the business jets displayed in abundance at JetExpo, Cauceglia answered: “We do not compete with [companies] for whom business jets are the core business. We compete with regional jet manufacturers, those who produce business-aviation versions of their passenger jets.”
Accordingly, the SJI boss is not concerned about competition from Embraer’s developmental E-2 program. “The level of technology in our airplane is so high that it allows us to compete not just with existing aircraft now in production, but also with those that would appear in the next five years.”
Cauceglia said the next version of the SBJ could appear in the “2016-2017 timeframe.” “By the time the next version of the SBJ – one for the Western market – becomes a reality we shall have winglets available. This would give the aircraft some extra range.”
The SBJ on display at JetExpo has a Russian interior, but Cauceglia said, “Because the Italians are so good at interiors, we believe sales can get a boost if we can apply Italian expertise in that and other areas.”
Cauceglia added that Comlux, which signed for an SBJ several years ago, is still considering the aircraft even though the delivery timetable for this provisional deal is still uncertain. “We are in discussions with them, they are still with us,” he concluded.