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Would a U.S.-Based Airline Purchase Russian Planes?

The NY Times today has an article about the Superjet 100 aircraft made by Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi. The planes, which are meant to compete with Embraer and Bombardier aircraft in the 100-seat category, are a far cry from the Russian aircraft of years gone by (ie, I bumped my head when entering a Yakovlev-made aircraft flown by Cubana because they didn’t bother to make the entryway as tall as a human being).

Sukhoi has produced the plane with Western tastes in mind, both from a safety standpoint but also comfort, with upgraded lighting and large overhead bins. But also with the financial needs of Western airlines, as it costs about 1/3 less than similar planes (list price: $31 million).

Currently, only Aeroflot and Armenian airline Armavia have received the new planes, though Mexican carrier Interjet has ordered 15.

My question is this: will an American airline order a Russian-made airplane? Given the past history of Russian aircraft (ie, serious safety concerns), would Americans refuse to fly an airline that flew these? Or would most people have no idea? It took Hyundai almost 20 years before Americans really embraced their cars (and now they’re profitable and well-established in the U.S.). Could something similar happen with Sukhoi?

What do you think?

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  1. If you’d told me 20 years ago that we’d all be flying around in Brazilian jets I would have thought you were crazy. But here we are. If the economics work out on the Russian jets, airlines will buy them and people will fly them.

  2. Yeah, if the plane is any good (I’m skeptical, but I know nothing about it), a US carrier will ultimately buy it. Just don’t look for them to be early adapters, though!

    • Spirit is the only US airline I can even imagine considering it, as they really just don’t care what people think (and good for them – they have, I believe, the second highest profit margin in the US airline industry). Allegiant could conceivably be interested, but they can by the MD-80s so cheap I don’t see why they’d bother.

  3. People will get used to them if they catch on elsewhere and develop a good safety record. Might help if the Russians gave the company a more global name (less Russian/Soviet sounding).

  4. Wow. Really nice. Our government is now doing great for me. Helping our Big companies draw more profit and owning outbound investments. Really nice.. :)

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