Aeroflot grounds four out of ten Superjets

Russian flag-carrier Aeroflot has grounded four out of its 10-strong fleet of Russian made Sukhoi Superjets due to technical problems, the manufacturer said on Tuesday.

Sukhoi Civil Aviation, which makes the plane along with international partners, said that all the planes would be resuming flights by the end of the month at the very latest.

The grounding of almost half of Aeroflot's fleet of Superjets represents a new setback for hopes that the plane, the first to be made by post-Soviet Russia, rapidly becoming a standard choice for short haul flights.

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"The four Sukhoi Superjet 100 planes will resume commercial flights by the end of February. At the current time work on them is being finished. The first two could resume flying by the end of this week," Sukhoi said in a statement.

According to the Vedomosti daily, the Russian aviation agency Rosaviatsia had informed Aeroflot on Monday that the four planes' authorisation to fly was being withdrawn.

The Superjet has had technical incidents with its landing gear and leak detection systems since it started flying in 2011. However the company insists that relatively minor technical issues are a common problem on a brand new plane design.

According to Russia's Kommersant daily, the Superjet last year was responsible for 40 percent of technical problems needing repair at Aeroflot last year even though the plane accounts for only 8 percent of its fleet.

Attempts to market the plane are still shadowed by the deadly accident in May last year when a Superjet performing at an Indonesian air show slammed into a volcano killing all 45 on board.

Indonesian investigators have blamed pilot error for the crash.

by Tim Witcher © 2013 AFP

Source: AFP
Date: Feb 12, 2013