Jakarta: A Russian commercial jet with at least 50 people on board went off radar during a test flight over West Java in Indonesia, officials said on Wednesday.
The Sukhoi Superjet 100 was carrying Russian embassy officials, businessmen and journalists and was on a demonstration flight for potential buyers.
The plane took off from Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in the capital, Jakarta, at 2:21 p.m. (0721 GMT).
Officials said that the plane successfully completed the first round of flight, but it lost contact during the second term near the Salak mountain range, after the crew asked air traffic control for permission to descend from 3,000 meters to 1,800 meters.
No explanation was given for the sudden change of course. Though drizzling at the time, it was not stormy.
Search and rescue teams were heading to the area just south of the capital, said Bambang Ervan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Transportation. Bad weather, however, forced at least two helicopters to turn back.
Head of Search and Rescue Agency Rear Marshal Daryatmo hoped that they would manage to reach the location by tonight.
Developed by the Russian aerospace company Sukhoi in co-operation with Western partners, the plane is the first completely new airliner designed by Russia since the Soviet collapse.
Russia has hoped that the short- to mid-range jet, which made its maiden run in 2008, would help it break into international markets dominated by Boeing and Airbus.
With agencies inputs
First Published: Wednesday, May 09, 2012, 19:29