Next year Tu-204SM aircraft may join the fleet of Red Wings. It was stated by the company’s Chief Commercial Officer (CCO), Evgeny Klyucharev, at a press-conference held in Sochi.
According to him, the ultimate question is whether it is possible to convert flying testbeds into passenger airliners. We remind you that two Tu-204SM jets have already been assembled. The airline placed an order for 10 vehicles of the type in August 2013 at MAKS-2013 airshow. The aircraft should be delivered to the customer during 2015-2017 period.
According to the company’s CCO, the more realistic solution is to purchase six Tu-204-300 aircraft previously operated by Vladivostok Air (also known as Vladivostok Avia). The jets may join the carrier’s fleet in July 2014. "At present these aircraft are being added to the Air Operator Certificate, but there are some problems", — Klyucharev said. He explained that the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC) believes that Tu-204-300 is an individual type of aircraft, which requires its own simulator for personnel training. "We think that it is a modification and there are no problems in terms of technical support and equipment", — he said adding that the jets are owned by Ilyushin Finance & Co. leasing company, which is negotiating deliveries of these airliners to Cuba. "We need these jets in summer in order to launch new flights to Crimea; there is no point in purchasing the liners in September", — he added.
The passenger capacity of Tu-204 is 210 persons, while Tu-204-300 can carry only 164 passengers. According to Klyucharev, such passenger capacity is more suitable for launching new flights. "We need a smaller aircraft seating 100-120 passengers in order to develop new destinations. It will give us flexibility, allow us to increase the frequency of flights and develop our route network, — he added. The company is considering Sukhoi SuprJet 100 and An-148/158 liners. "But SSJ 100 has problems and all the An-148/158 jets manufactured by VASO are sold out for the next five years", — Klyucharev said. "Yes, there are still some problems related to SSJ 100, but Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) has invested billions of dollars in this project and it cannot be abandoned", — he added. — In addition, there are problems connected with personnel training". Today there are only three SSJ 100 full flight simulators in the world (they are located in Venice, Zhukovsky and at Aeroflot’s flight school). And a new customer will have to wait for a year to start training. "Moreover, the cost of training is rather high for pilots of SSJ 100 - $134 thousand per pilot. For example, the cost of training for A320 pilots is $40 thousand per person", — Evgeny Klyucharev added.