SuperJet International has launched the Sukhoi Business Jet with a $200 million order for four aircraft from Comlux The Aviation Group, a leading VIP charter services company.

The first two aircraft (the second two are options) will be delivered for outfitting to the Comlux Group completion center in Indianapolis early in 2014. Comlux America has been appointed as the first approved completion center for the jet.

The Sukhoi Business Jet is based on the Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional airliner that entered service in April. The 100-seat twinjet is built in Russia by Sukhoi, famed for its long line of fighter aircraft.

SuperJet International, a joint venture headquartered in Venice, Italy, and owned 51% by Alenia Aeronautica (a Finmeccanica company) and 49% by Sukhoi Holding, is in charge of the marketing, sales, customization and delivery of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional jet in Europe, the Americas, Oceania, Africa and Japan. It is also responsible for training and worldwide after-sales support, as well as the design and development of VIP and cargo variants.

At $50 million completed, the Sukhoi Business Jet will go head to head with Embraer’s $50.48 million Lineage 1000, says SuperJet International CEO Carlo Logli. The VIP version will incorporate up to nine extra fuel tanks in the cargo bay to offer a range of up to 4,300 nm.

The cabin, says Logli, is wider than that of the Lineage at 10.63 ft vs 8.8 ft, a length of 66.99 ft vs 84.3 ft, and height of 6.96 ft vs 6.6 ft. Unlike the Lineage, it can accommodate a king sized bed, while leaving room for a royal entourage as well. “It basically has the same cabin layout as a Boeing Business Jet,” he said, although it is 12.18 ft shorter.

“We are in discussions with other customers in Asia and the Middle East,” Logli added.

“If this was just for charter, we wouldn’t have done it,” says Richard Gaona, president of Comlux the Aviation Group, of partnering with SuperJet International to launch the Sukhoi Business Jet.

Gaona’s strategic move brings Comlux a wide-cabin charter aircraft between the Global and the Airbus ACJ, work for his completions center in Indianapolis, and aircraft he can buy and sell. Already he envisions up to 10 Sukhois flowing through his completions center, with strong interest from the Russian market.

The aircraft features fly-by-wire, and is powered by two SaM146 turbofans, made in a joint venture between Snecma of France and Russia’s NPO Saturn. Like many projects the world over, the Superjet 100 has suffered lengthy delays and is entering service three years late. So far, three are in airline service: one with Armenia’s Armavia, and two with Russian airline Aeroflot.

More will enter service as production is ramped up—itself a challenge—by Sukhoi, which aims to double production to 28 next year and deliver 40 in 2013 against a current order book of 168 aircraft.

Logli admits that the Russian aerospace industry has a poor reputation for customer service and after-sales support, and explained that SuperJet’s role is to bring Western standards to bear. It plans to develop maintenance, repair and overhaul support for VIP and airline Superjets, perhaps with Comlux at Le Bourget, Paris, as well as in the U.S., probably in Florida so as to serve both South and North America.

SuperJet has set up a spares distribution center in Frankfurt, Germany, at a warehouse managed by Lufthansa Technik Logistik, and has identified that company’s Fort Lauderdale warehouse to cover spare parts requirements in the Americas. A third support warehouse, at Sheremetyevo airport, Moscow, is aimed to cover spare parts requirements for Russian and CIS customers.

The next challenge facing the Superjet program is winning EASA certification for the airliner. This is expected before the end of the year, said Logli, with certification by the end of next year for the long-range version. STCs for the VIP version’s extra fuel tanks are expected in the first quarter of 2014.

The question of FAA certification must also be addressed in the next few months, Logli said.