Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi has announced that it is ready to revive its nearly forgotten Su-80 aircraft programme, which was put on hold a few years ago.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev recently urged Sukhoi to create a new cost-effective jet for regional flights, as part of the government's effort to revive the country's regional aviation, which has been on the decline.
Sukhoi suggested that it would be a better idea to pull the Su-80 project off the shelf, reported Russian website RBC Daily.
However, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft vice president for finance Yevgeny Konkov told reporters that a concrete strategy for the development of civil aviation had not yet been brought out by the government.
The company is ready to manufacture the aircraft at its plant in Komsomolsk, Konkov added.
Konkov also noted that there was a lack of clarity on what airfields the new jet should be operated on and what kind of engine it should be equipped with, although the company may be expected to manufacture a passenger aircraft for flights of 1,500km-2,000km.
Powered by two GE ST7-9B turboprop engines, the Su-80 is a multi-purpose aeroplane that can carry 30 passengers and can also be used as cargo carrier, with a capacity to take a load of up to 7,275lbs.
It was designed to replace the An-24, An-26 and Yak-40 aircraft models and could operate both on commuter and regional air routes even under unfavourable conditions, according to Sukhoi.
The airplane has a customised landing gear and low-pressure tyres, which enables takeoff and landing even on small airfields or runways covered in snow.
Based on the 2006 prices, the manufacturing cost of each jet ranges from RUR230m to RUR280m ($7.1m to $8.7m).
Sukhoi stopped its Su-80 aircraft programme when it began the Superjet project; however, now the future of the Superjet is itself not certain as the project is bogged down by technical issues.
In 2011, when the Superjet 100 began its first commercial passenger flight from Yerevan to Moscow route, it had engine problems and in May, another Superjet, which had passengers aboard, crashed in Indonesia.
Image: Sukhoi's Su-80 jet could be revived after a call from Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Photo: courtesy of Sukhoi Company (JSC).