New Russian jet now missing over Indonesia

A Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 is missing over Indonesia. The new Russian passenger jet, with 46 people, including Russian Embassy officials, was on a demonstration flight.

(AP Photo)
A Russian-made Sukhoi Superjet-100 is parked on the tarmac in Jakarta, Indonesia on May 8, 2012. The plane carrying 46 people lost contact with air controllers while flying over mountains during a demonstration flight Wednesday in western Indonesia, officials said.

A Russian Sukhoi passenger plane with 46 people on board, including businessmen and Russian envoys, has gone missing during a demonstration flight over West Java in Indonesia, officials said on Wednesday.

Indonesia's search and rescue agency said radio contact was lost with the plane after it descended to 6,000 feet. The Indonesia military said the plane "fell" from the sky.

The plane was carrying Indonesia businessmen and Russian embassy officials, the transport ministry said.

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"The plane was doing the first flight around midday and returned to the airport, but when it took off the second time, it lost contact around Bogor," said Bambang Ervan, the transport ministry spokesman.

Olga Kayukova, a spokeswoman for Russia's United Aircraft Corporation, told Reuters the Sukhoi Superjet-100 was on a second flight as part of a demonstration program in Indonesia.

"The first flight was carried out in a normal mode ... The pre-flight preparations were carried out in full and the plane was completely ready to fly," she said.

"According to information from Indonesia, the contact with the plane was broken after 20 minutes from the take off, at 1435 local time. Search works are under way."

Local television reported that a search operation would be carried out from early on Thursday.

The Sukhoi's Superjet 100, with a capacity of 68-103 passengers, was developed in partnership with Boeing and Italy's Finmeccanica. The Superjet 100 is the first new civil aircraft developed in post-Soviet Russia. It was designed to replace Russia's aging fleet of Tupolev Tu-134s and Yankovlev Yak-42s. It's also marketed as having lower operating costs than similar aircraft already sold internationally.

If the aircraft has crashed, it would be a major blow to the marketing of the new aircraft.

Sukhoi, which has orders for 170 planes, plans to produce up to 1,000 superjets, primarily for foreign markets.

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