What’s next for Russia’s aviation industry after plane crash?

Marketplace Contributor May 10, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Now to Russia, which is dealing with a human tragedy this morning after one of its passenger planes crashed into a volcano in Indonesia yesterday. There were 45 people on board and no signs so far of survivors. The other part of the tragedy for Russia is that the plane was its first new passenger jet since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Reporter Peter Van Dyk joins us now from Moscow with more. Good morning.

Peter van Dyk: Good morning, Jeremy.

Hobson: Well Peter, tell us about the implications of this plane crash for Russia’s aviation industry.

Van Dyk: Well the Sukhoi Superjet 100 is really what the Russian aviation industry has invested all its hopes in after a very, very bad 20 years since the end of the Soviet Union. Now it was on a promotional flight. They are hoping to sell a lot of these planes to Asia. It’s a mid-range regional jet, seats around 80 passengers, and it hopes to be very competitive in these markets, where Russia is again trying to establish itself as a potential provider of planes.

Hobson: And Russia does not have a great history when it comes to civil aviation, especially in recent years. Right?

Van Dyk: No, that’s very true. The number of crashes in Russia and the former Soviet Union is quite a long list. Many of them, like this one, involving a lot of casualties. These crashes are caused by a number of factors — the aging Soviet-era fleet, but also there is problems with pilot training, ground crew, maintenance, and with infrastructure at airports. So all these things combined make for some pretty big problems for the Russian aviation industry and that’s something that the Sukhoi Superjet is trying to overcome. But increasingly Western firms such as Boeing are doing more and more business in this market.

Hobson: Reporter Peter van Dyk joining us from Moscow. Thank you very much.

Van Dyk: Thanks Jeremy.

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