ZHUKOVSKY, Russia, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Russia's first civilian passenger airplane since the fall of the Soviet Union should be delivered to customers by the end of the year, the chief of planemaker Sukhoi said on Wednesday.
General Director Mikhail Pogosyan said he also expected to have 150 firm orders for the long-delayed Superjet 100 -- which officials have pitched as the new hope for Russia's languishing aircraft industry -- by year end.
As of June, Sukhoi had 122 firm contracts for the plane.
'I still affirm that we should complete the necessary tests and the transfer of planes to customers before the end of 2009,' Pogosyan told a news conference at the MAKS aerospace fair in Zhukovsky, outside Moscow.
The comments appeared to contradict a statement by Sukhoi's owner, Russia's state aviation corporation (UAC), that the first deliveries should begin in the first half of 2010.
The head of UAC and Sukhoi board chairman, Alexei Fyodorov, said on Tuesday deliveries of the Superjet-100 should begin in the first half of 2010, later than the company's earlier target of end-2009.
Designed to replace ageing Tupolev-134 and Yakovlev-42 planes on routes between Russia's regional cities, the Superjet is a joint creation of UAC and U.S. plane maker Boeing Co .
The Superjet was developed with Italy's Finmeccanica SpA and can carry between 75 and 95 passengers.
The aircraft made its maiden flight -- initially planned for 2007 -- in May 2008 and is still undergoing tests. It made its first public flight in June.
(Writing by Maria Kiselyova and Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by David Holmes) Keywords: RUSSIA SUKHOI/SUPERJET (firstname.lastname@example.org, +7 495 775 12 42, Reuters Messaging: email@example.com) COPYRIGHT Copyright Thomson Reuters 2009. All rights reserved. The copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters News Content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters.