Contact lost with Russian-made plane in Indonesia

(AP) Contact lost with Russian-made plane in Indonesia
JAKARTA, Indonesia
A Russian-made plane carrying 46 people lost contact with air controllers while flying over mountains during a demonstration flight Wednesday in western Indonesia, officials said.

Search and rescue teams were heading to the area, said Bambang Ervan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Transportation. Bad weather, however, forced at least two helicopters to turn back.

The Sukhoi Superjet-100, a civilian plane, took off from Jakarta's Halim Perdanakusuma Airport at 2 p.m. (0700 GMT) and was scheduled to return 50 minutes later.

Air controllers lost contact after the crew asked permission to descend from 10,000 feet to 6,000 feet (3,000 meters to 1,800 meters) near the Salak mountains in West Java province, said Rear Marshal Daryatmo, chief of the national search and rescue agency.

Several diplomats from the Russian Embassy, potential buyers from several Indonesian airline companies and journalists were among the 38 passengers on board, said Rear Marshal Daryatmo, another search and rescue official.

There were also eight Russian crew members, he said.

The plane, developed by the Russian aerospace company Sukhoi in co-operation with Western partners, is the first completely new airliner designed by Russia since the Soviet collapse.

It was on the fourth stop of a six-nation "Welcome Asia!" road show after having already been to Myanmar, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. It was supposed to head next to Laos and Vietnam.

Russia has hoped that the short- to mid-range jet, which made its maiden run in 2008, will help it break into international markets dominated by Boeing and Airbus.

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