The first Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Corp. regional jet is believed to have crashed in Indonesia during a demonstration program.
Local authorities report that contact with the aircraft was lost as it was returning to Jakarta around 20 minutes after takeoff. The crash site is believed to be in the vicinity of Mount Salak.
The aircraft had 44 persons onboard, including eight crew members. Search and rescue operations have commenced but are hobbled by the onset of darkness.
The aircraft was on an Asian tour to help drum-up sales interest in the regional jet. Several Asian airlines have already committed to the program, including Indonesia’s Kartika Airlines.
The mishap aircraft is SN95004, which replaced SN95005 which began the tour. Prior to its arrival in Indonesia, the tour included stops in Burma, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan, and the aircraft was due to head to Laos and Vietnam after. At the outset of the tour, Sukhoi said chief test pilot Alexander Yablontsev and his co-pilot Alexander Kochetkov would be in charge.
The incident comes as Sukhoi was looking to move the program to a new level, with production slated to ramp up after several years of below-planned output. Moreover, the aircraft maker recently received the Mexican certification for the regional jet to allow Interjet, its first western operator, to commence use of the aircraft this year.
and Armavia are the only Superjet operators so far. The total in-service fleet has now reached seven aircraft.