Russian aircraft maker cancels demonstration flight in Vietnam

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The demonstration fight of a Russian aircraft manufacturer in Vietnam has been canceled after its airplane went missing and was found wrecked in Indonesia on Wednesday.

A Tuoi Tre newspaper report Friday quoted Lai Xuan Thanh, deputy chief of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam, as saying that the Sukhoi Aviation Corporation has sent a letter to the Vietnamese agency, asking to cancel the flight scheduled for May 14 at the Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi.

Explaining the cancelation, Sukhoi said the airplane, which is believed to have crashed into a volcano in Indonesia with none of its 45 or 48 crew and passengers surviving the demonstration flight in Indonesia, was the only one that the company prepared for its demonstration tour in six Asian countries.

Vietnam was the last destination on the tour organized by the Russian company to offer its Superjet 100 to potential customers. Other target countries were Laos, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Kazakhstan.

Tuoi Tre cited Russian media as saying exporting civilian aircraft to Vietnam is among the priorities in the 2012 cooperation strategy between Russia and Vietnam.

Sukhoi is planning negotiations with Vietnamese air carriers to sell Superjet 100 aircraft, it said, but representatives of the carriers Vietnam Airlines, Jetstar Pacific, and Vietjet Air said they have yet to be contacted by the Russian manufacturer, the newspaper reported.

A Vnexpress Thursday said the carriers have made no plans to buy the aircraft.

It quoted a representative from Vietnam Airlines as saying that the state-owned corporation is still considering the issue and has made no purchase plans.

In the meantime, all the planned purchases of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 in Indonesia have been suspended until the accident's cause is thoroughly investigated, the Jakarta Post reported. It said currently four local buyers have expressed "serious" interest in buying the aircraft.

The wrecked aircraft disappeared from radar scenes during its second demonstration flight on Wednesday afternoon.  Its wreckage was spotted the next morning on a hill near Mount Salak at a height of 1,600 meters above sea level, Indonesian reports said.

Local rescuers found victims' remains in the debris when they reached the site later that day, but authorities refused to reveal the number of bodies, saying that they still need to cross-check with other agencies and the victims' families.

CNN said the number of people on board was yet to be finalized as some of listed passengers did not board the flight.

It said the Russian Investigative Committee reported 48 people were on the plane, including eight Russian crew members. Meanwhile, the Russian news agency RIA-Novosti said the number was 45, as three people on the passenger list did not board the aircraft.

A civilian aircraft produced by Sukhoi, which is famous as a military aircraft manufacturer, especially fighter jets, the Superjet 100 made its first flight in 2008 and first commercial passenger flight in April 2011. It is designed to carry 100 passengers.

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