Russian supersonic business jet project is going to be unprofitable unless it finds investors from the UAE, admits Sergei Chemezov, the head of Rostec.

“Currently [the project exists] only on paper. The idea is nice, but, unfortunately, it is not economically feasible. An unprofitable project. An interesting toy for sheikhs,” Chemezov said in an interview to the Russian TV channel Rossiya 24.

Russian United Aircraft Corporation (UAC), a subsidiary of state-owned corporation Rostec, announced their supersonic business jet project in 2018. It was supposed to be developed by a joint venture with investment funds from the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Russia and the UAE will form a joint venture with the aim of designing a supersonic airliner. An 8-seat and a 30-seat variant are being studied.

In February 2021, Russian Industry and Trade minister Denis Manturov said that the design study on the project was 80% complete. The cruise speed of the aircraft was intended to be between Mach 1.5 and 1.8, and two versions of the jet were envisioned: a VIP variant designed to carry 8 passengers and a passenger variant with 40 seats. 

The design was supposed to be revealed in 2021 or 2022, and the cost of the project was estimated at $100 million. According to Manturov, the first delivery was expected in 2027.

The project has received an interest from Russian flag carrier Aeroflot, which announced an intention to purchase the aircraft. 

In recent years, a number of American and European companies have announced the development of the new generation of supersonic passenger jets, a concept not seen since the retirement of the Concorde. Mostly developed by newly-created startups, the projects often receive significant backing from large aeronautical corporations, such as Airbus and Boeing, in what many consider to be an upcoming renaissance of supersonic commercial travel.

Three upstart companies – Boom Supersonic, Aerion and Spike Aerospace – seem to be edging closer towards the reintroduction of supersonic flight for civilians. Firm believers in the commercial success of transoceanic routes, all three companies have received orders for their aircraft and hope to start delivering them in the mid-2020s.