Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Russian Passenger Jet Vanishes in Flight

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

Russian Passenger Jet Vanishes in Flight

Article excerpt

The Sukhoi SuperJet 100, the first newly designed passenger jet made in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, was carrying 46 people during a sales demonstration in Indonesia.

The demonstration airplane for a new model of Russian passenger jet vanished from radar screens and lost contact with ground controllers on Wednesday during a flight in Indonesia for airline representatives and journalists that was meant to promote sales of the jet.

The Russian and Indonesian authorities confirmed the loss of contact with the crew of the airplane, the Sukhoi SuperJet 100, during a flight that departed from Halim airport in Jakarta and was to return there 50 minutes later.

News agencies reported that 46 people were aboard the plane, the first newly designed passenger jet made in Russia since the collapse of the Soviet Union, though it was unclear whether this figure included the crew.

The plane vanished soon after the pilot requested permission to descend, a spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Indonesia told the Interfax news agency.

The agency also cited an unidentified spokesman for the Russian Transportation Ministry saying a preflight check had turned up nothing suspicious, a standard assurance offered by the Russian transportation authorities after mishaps. "The plane was absolutely flight worthy," the spokesman said.

The jet carried much of Russia's hopes of reviving a commercial aerospace industry that has been plagued by safety problems, breakdowns and lethal crashes, rendering it virtually unable to sell planes in most parts of the world.

Sukhoi has highlighted its partnership with Western companies in marketing. Alenia Aeronautica, a division of the Italian engineering giant Finmeccanica, owns about 25 percent of the SuperJet program and is helping to market the plane in Western Europe, North and South America, Japan and Australia through a subsidiary based in Venice, SuperJet International. …

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