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Sukhoi Superjet Takeoff Abandoned In Moscow

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A Sukhoi Superjet 100 failed to take off from Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport after one of its engines malfunctioned, Interfax reported, further clouding the future of Russia's first post-Soviet civil aircraft project.

The Superjet program hit uncertainty last year after one plane crashed in Indonesia during a promotional flight, which investigators said was due to pilot error and Jakarta air traffic control's lack of a minimum safe altitude system.

Russia's Aeroflot, the only airline operating the aircraft so far, also grounded four of its 10 Superjets earlier this month due to technical problems.

The Sunday evening flight from Moscow to the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv was called off after the plane had started gaining speed to take off, news agency Interfax reported on Monday, quoting a source at the airport's air traffic control service.

"For an unknown reason the control system for engine number one failed and the crew decided to abort the take-off," the source said. It was not clear how many passengers were on board.

A source close to Sukhoi confirmed the take-off failure but blamed the problem on the airline's maintenance of the aircraft. Aeroflot did not respond to requests for information.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has championed the project which aims to compete with regional jet makers such as Brazil's Embraer and Canada's Bombardier and help Russia shake off its reputation for poor air safety.

The project is led by Sukhoi - part of state-owned United Aircraft Corporation, an umbrella corporation Putin created in 2006 to reorganize and revive the country's aircraft industry - in partnership with Italy's Finmeccanica.

Russia has declared ambitions to sell USD$250 billion worth of aircraft by 2025 and overtake even Soviet-era output records to compete with US and European companies.

(Reuters)