MOSCOW (AP) -- Delays are expected in deliveries of the first Superjets, a regional jet that Russia is banking on to restore the country's aircraft competitiveness, the director of Russia's airplane-building conglomerate was quoted as saying Monday.
The first Superjets were to be delivered to Aeroflot at the end of this year. But Russian news agencies quoted United Aircraft Corp. director Alexei Fyodorov as saying there have been delays in conducting test flights.
''We had plans to conduct the first flight at the end of last year, but ran into an array of difficulties,'' Fyodorov said, according to the state-run news agency RIA-Novosti. ''We can't say when they will be delivered to Aeroflot.''
The Superjet, the first new Russian commercial airplane since the Soviet Union's collapse, seats 75 to 95 people and has a range of about 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles).
Russia's Soviet-designed airplanes are increasingly less competitive on the world market because they do not meet many countries' noise and emissions standards.
Firm orders for 73 Superjets have been received, RIA-Novosti said.
Most of the planes are destined for Russian airlines, but the Italian airline ItAli last year placed an order for 10 of them.
Italian aircraft-maker Alenia last year formed a joint venture with Sukhoi, the Superjet maker, to handle Western European marketing and maintenance of the plane.