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The Sukhoi SportJet


Due to take its maiden flight in 2018, the SportJet, a collaboration between the Sukhoi Company and the Aviation Committee of the Russian Federation, is designed to transport professional athletes to competitions and matches. ACS caught up with Irina Zelenkova, Senior Research Specialist at the Innovation Center of the Russian Olympic Committee, at MAKS 2017 to find out more about the Sukhoi SportJet.

Seating on the Sukhoi Sportjet prototype
Seating on the Sukhoi Sportjet prototype
Irina Zelenkova at a desk onboard
Irina Zelenkova at a desk onboard

Tell us about the Sukhoi SportJet - it looks awesome!
“The SportJet is designed for athletes, specifically for transporting sport teams. Our aim is to create conditions that are optimal for travelling athletes. There’s a lot of technology, all of which can be changed or supplemented. In the design, we wanted to take several factors into account at once.”

What are those factors?
“The first is travel fatigue, which strongly influences an athlete’s performance, as has been proven by numerous studies. If flying impacts the athlete’s performance in competition, and in world competitions the difference between second or third place might be only one second, then we need to protect every precious fraction of a second. This is what many of the devices on this aircraft are designed for: to help our athletes get the correct nourishment, rest and recovery.”

Presumably money was another factor?
“Absolutely. It became clear that teams spend a great deal of money on flying, using various aviation companies and planes, and there’s no consistency. In terms of cost, the Sukhoi SportJet is an ordinary plane, but in terms of performance everything is specially designed for athletes.”

Is the SportJet based on an earlier aircraft?
“Yes, it’s based on the Sukhoi SSJ 100. The aircraft can accommodate as many as 100 people, or you can create fewer but more comfortable ‘VIP’ seats.”

So you can create different versions of the aircraft, tailored to individual teams?
“We can. Team colors might be used, or the chairs could correspond to player numbers. And if the team has its own aircraft, that could give them a kind of home-field advantage, because they can use the space not only in the air, but also on the ground as a base to go and rest in.”

What kind of potential clients do you think might be interested in the Sukhoi SportJet?
“At MAKS we have met with interested potential partners from Greece, and the French Industrial Chamber, which is currently fighting for the 2024 Winter Olympics. We exchanged contacts and will continue negotiations. The SportJet has been presented to the Russian Olympic champions, the International Olympic Committee and the national Olympic committees in Rio. People have been completely delighted.”

Has the SportJet made its maiden flight yet?
“Not yet, it’s still in prototype form.”

Specially designed athletes’ bed on the Sukhoi Sportjet prototype
Specially designed athletes’ bed on the Sukhoi Sportjet prototype
An exercise machine on the Sukhoi Sportjet prototype
An exercise machine on the Sukhoi Sportjet prototype

When do you think the first Sukhoi SportJet will be manufactured?
“We’re hoping it will be ready in time for the World Cup 2018.” 

Returning to the question of private aviation, along what lines do you think the market is developing right now?
“The main trends at the moment are safety and comfort. With the SportJet we’re creating a product that satisfies both of these demands.”

Tell us about your personal impressions of MAKS. What have you enjoyed most, and what has interested you?
“This is my first time at MAKS and I’m impressed; the organization of the event, the presentation techniques - which are fantastic in terms of engineering - everything is to a really high standard.”

Do you think that events like MAKS are important to the development of the industry?
“It’s very important that people interact, find a shared language and cooperate. An individual company can be very strong in their field, of course, but when they collaborate with another organization, fascinating projects can develop. Our cooperation with the Aviation Committee of Russia is one instance of the advantages of coming together.”

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