Some of the components for Russia’s new Sukhoi Superjet-100 (SSJ) may soon be made in China, a senior Sukhoi Civilian Aircraft executive has said. Another source close to the company has also confirmed the news.

The Sukhoi executive says the Chinese market is the fastest-growing in the world, and it generates large demand for short-haul jets. China's aerospace industry has yet to begin mass production of its own Advanced Regional Jet (ARJ21) model. Until that happens, Russia’s SSJ aircraft could fill the existing market niche, the executive believes.

He adds, however, that China has very tight quotas on imports on foreign aircraft in an effort to support its own aerospace industry. Each Chinese airline is allowed to import only three to five new planes every year. Various options are on the table to overcome that difficulty, including the manufacture of some of the Superjet components in China.

An agreement on cooperation with China in this area could be signed at the upcoming MAKS-2013 airshow in Moscow, but progress at the talks has been slow so far because of the numerous details that have to be taken into account.

If China were to buy a large batch of the Superjet-100 or launch local production of some of their components, such a move would be a huge success for Sukhoi, says Roman Gusarev, editor-in-chief of the Avia.ru industry news website. The Chinese market is vast, and requires hundreds of new aircraft.

But there are also serious risks, Gusarev warns. China is working on its own new regional jet, the ARJ21, which should be very similar to the Supreject-100 in terms of its specifications. So far, however, the new Chinese plane is not ready for prime time after several serious setbacks during trials.

"We need to make sure that we don’t just end up sharing our technologies with China, sharing our expertise, and by doing so help them to overcome their own teething problems and produce a strong competitor to the Superjet-100," Gusarev says. "That risk will become especially serious if we transfer the technology for producing some of the aircraft components to the Chinese."

Commenting on the ongoing talks about the Superjet-100 project, a senior Sukhoi executive said that not only China but India as well is being regarded as a potential partner. But negotiations with the Indians are at a much earlier stage, the executive added.

First published in Russian by Vedomosti

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