Sukhoi Unveils First Russian Passenger Jet Since the Fall of the USSR

Meet the Superjet 100 (in triumphant rendering form)—the newest entrant into the sub-100 passenger regional jet arena. This one's notable, however, for being the first new passenger jet designed and built in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union.

Russia's legendary civil aircraft design bureaus—Mikoyan, Yakovlev, Tupolev, Ilyushin—just barely survived the chaotic privatization that followed the end of the USSR. Basically, they survived in name only, as none had the resources to focus on anything but military projects. The Superjet marks the latest step in the process to revitalize the industry—a process that began last year with the massive restructuring of practically every major Russian aviation firm into the monolithic United Aircraft Building Corporation, placing all of them comfortably back under the wing of the Russian government which will retain a 75% stake. Notably, one of President Vladimir Putin's likely successors, Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, was picked to run the new military and civil aviation conglomerate, ensuring his financial health for the foreseeable future.

The Superjet 100 is expected to begin flight tests before the year is up before entering into what Russia hopes will be stiff competition with the regional jet leaders—Brazil's Embraer and Canada's Bombardier. —John Mahoney