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Senior Russian officials, experts fly to Indonesia for missing plane

(Xinhua)

09:02, May 10, 2012

MOSCOW, May 9 (Xinhua) -- Several Russian officials and experts have left for Indonesia Wednesday after a Russian-made commercial plane Sukhoi Superjet 100 with at least 46 people on board went missing in Indonesia earlier on the day.

President of Russia's Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCA) Vladimir Prisyazhnyuk told reporters that officials and experts from the Russian Ministry of Industry and Commerce, the Inter-State Aviation Committee, the United Aircraft Building Corporation and the SCA were expected to arrive in Jakarta on Thursday afternoon.

The Russian Ministry of Industry and Commerce has not yet officially confirmed the plane's disappearance, but it announced that a special commission has been set up to probe into the incident.

Prisyazhnyuk confirmed the radio communication with the Sukhoi Superjet 100 lost at 11:21 a.m. Moscow time (0721 GMT) during the plane's second promotion flight in Indonesia.

The first flight, conducted early Wednesday, went well as scheduled, Prisyazhnyuk said.

"As we know, there has been no information about possible system malfunction before the plane's disappearance. The aircraft has made about 500 flights, in total over 800 flight hours," Prisyazhnyuk said.

He added that the commander of the jet, Alexander Yablontsev, is a first-class testing pilot "who has flown over 10,000 hours practically on all types of aircraft."

Indonesian authorities said Wednesday that a Sukhoi Superjet 100 carrying Indonesian and Russian businessmen and officials of the Russian embassy in Jakarta lost contact while trying to descend from 10,000 feet to 6,000 feet.

Currently, a search operation is still underway.

Sukhoi Superjet 100 is a regional 100-seat plane developed by the SCA with the participation of Italy's Alenia Aermacchi.

The plane is conducting its road show "Welcome Asia!" in several central and southeastern Asian countries. It has already made demonstration flights in Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Myanmar and was expected to fly to Laos and Vietnam.

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