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Russian, French, Italian jobs hang on Sukhoi Superjet crash probe

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With so much national pride invested in Russia's relatively young aircraft project, the crash is likely to shake the confidence of the industry in a way that would be less common among Western firms whose accident rate is statistically lower.

That could change if investigators find no technical fault.

"If it was pilot error then it is not a huge blow to the Russian aerospace industry. However if it was a technical problem with the aircraft, then it could really affect customer perception of the aircraft and order capability," said Tom Chruszcz, a director at the ratings agency Fitch.

President Vladimir Putin, who completed a job swap with former president Dmitry Medvedev to start a new six-year term on Monday, championed the development of Sukhoi's Superjet regional airplane during a previous stint as Russian leader.

Analysts say Putin wants to revive the aerospace sector, shattered by the collapse of the Soviet Union, to demonstrate Moscow's industrial clout abroad and help project the Kremlin's authority to voters inside Russia.

Built by the former Soviet Union's largest warplane maker, Sukhoi's Superjet is a 78- to 98-seat regional airliner designed for sale on a global market which has historically shied away from Russian-built jets for safety reasons.

Russia has declared ambitions to sell $250 billion worth of aircraft by 2025 and overtake even Soviet-era output records to compete with the U.S. and European giants.

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