Russian jet in Indonesia crash was replacement

The Russian Superjet plane that crashed in Indonesia killing all on board was a replacement for another plane that had carried out the first part of a promotional tour, its manufacturer said Monday.

The SSJ-100 Superjet -- the first new passenger plane produced by Russia since the collapse of the USSR -- was making an exhibition flight in Indonesia on a promotional tour to drum up business.

But the plane which crashed was not the same aircraft which carried out the first part of the promotional tour in Kazakhstan and Pakistan, Olga Kayukova, the spokeswoman for Sukhoi Civil Aircraft which makes the plane told AFP.

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The Moskovskiy Komsomolets and Kommersant newspapers earlier reported that the plane had been replaced in the middle of the exhibition tour.

Kayukova said that the first model had returned to Moscow after the Kazakhstan leg "to take part in tests", without giving further details on the reason.

But she added that the second plane was in "perfect technical condition before the flight."

Images of the planes' registration numbers posted by bloggers who had been following the whole tour confirmed the reports.

Moskovskiy Komsomolets said that the Superjet shown off in Kazakhstan and Pakistan was number 97005 while the model which crashed in Indonesia was number 97004.

"Why it was replaced, I cannot say," the paper quoted a source as saying. "But if it was not allowed to make further demonstration flights there must have been a cause."

It had previously been assumed that the Superjet which crashed last week was the same plane that made the first part of the promotional tour.

At least 45 people, mostly Indonesian airline representatives and eight Russians were on board the plane, which slammed into a dormant volcano after takeoff on Wednesday.

Its loss was a huge blow for the Superjet project, which legendary Russian plane maker Sukhoi hopes will be a major player in the short haul aviation market. So far there have been no official word on the cause of the crash.

by Harumi Ozawa © 2012 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: May 14, 2012