Update 3:55 p.m. ET – Darkness and bad weather has hampered the search for the missing plane but more than 100 people on the ground are continuing to search the mountains where the airplane disappeared. Two helicopters had to end their search, but are expected to try again at daybreak.
A Sukhoi Superjet 100 is missing in Indonesia after departing Jakarta with 50 people on board. The Russian jet was carrying Indonesian airline representatives as well as other airline industry passengers on a demo flight during a tour of Asia organized by the Russian plane maker.
The Sukhoi jet is Russia’s most modern airliner and first flew in 2008. The narrow-body airliner is aimed at the regional airline sector and is designed to compete with the more popular airplanes from Bombardier and Embraer. The Russian company partnered with Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica on the Superjet 100 project and the engines are a French/Russian partnership.
Sukhoi hopes to sell the 68- to 103-seat jet throughout parts of Asia, Western Europe and North America, where Russian aircraft have yet to find any customers. The Superjet 100 is a modern design with fly-by-wire control systems. Sukhoi is hoping the airplane will help shake the troubled reputation Russian-made aircraft have for questionable quality and accident rates much higher than their Western competitors. Last year Sukohi announced plans for a longer-range, business jet version of the airplane.
The Indonesian demo flight was scheduled to last less than an hour, but air traffic controllers lost contact with the jet while it was descending in a mountainous area, according to the BBC.
Sukhoi has delivered eight of the regional airliners and says it has orders for 240 more, mostly to customers outside of Russia. Indonesia-based airlines had already ordered more than 30 of the airplanes.
Via Wired Autopia: http://www.wired.com/autopia/