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JAKARTA - A Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 with more than 40 people on board went missing in a mountainous area south of the Indonesian capital Jakarta during a demonstration flight Wednesday, officials said.
"The plane disappeared from the radar around the Bogor area. We are still looking for it and we are uncertain whether it crashed," said Gagah Prakoso, spokesman for the national search and rescue agency.
Around 200 police, military and rescue workers were headed in vehicles and on foot towards Salak mountain where the plane went missing, he said.
"A helicopter was sent earlier, but it returned because it was getting dark and raining. We will continue searching by air again first thing tomorrow," he added.
The Superjet 100 is a new passenger aircraft built by legendary Russian planemaker Sukhoi in an attempt to lift the country's civil aviation industry from a post-Soviet crisis.
The Superjet only made its first commercial flight last year and if a major accident is confirmed it would be the first disaster to involve the aircraft.
The plane took off at 2:00 pm (0700 GMT) from east Jakarta's Halim Perdanakusuma airport, which is used for some commercial and military flights.
"At 2:50 pm it dropped from 10,000 feet (3,048 metres) to 6,000 feet," the rescue agency said in a text message to AFP.
A national park in the region encompasses a peak that is 1,929 meters (6,329 feet) high.
Reports of the exact number on board varied slightly, with Prakoso saying it was carrying 46 people.
Russia's RIA Novosti news agency reported 36 non-Russians on board and eight Russians, four of them crew and the others Sukhoi company representatives. It named the captain as Alexander Yablontsev, 57, a veteran pilot.
Herry Bakti, head of Indonesia' transport ministry's aviation division, said Superjet was on the second of two demonstration flights, and those on board were invited guests.
"It was just going to briefly circle the area and land back at Halim airport," he said.
A list of 36 passenger names posted at Halim airport showed that most of them were Indonesian airline and aviation officials, plus five journalists and a representative of French aircraft engine maker SNECMA with a Vietnamese name.
The Superjet is crucial to Russia's hopes of becoming a major player in the modern aviation market and improving its image in the industry, which has been scarred by frequent crashes of ageing Soviet-era jets.
The project is a joint venture between Sukhoi and Italy's Alenia Aeronautica, part of aerospace and defense giant Finmeccanica.
A mid-range airliner, the Superjet 100 is designed to carry up to 98 passengers and is a direct rival of similar aircraft produced by Brazil's Embraer and Canada's Bombardier.
So far it is being flown by two airlines, Russia's Aeroflot and Armenia's Armavia, although orders have been confirmed with several more. Its first commercial flight was operated by Armavia in April 2011 and Aeroflot followed later that year.
Indonesia's official Antara news agency said that domestic carrier Kartika Airlines and regional Sky Aviation had both placed orders for the plane.
The demonstration flight in Indonesia was part of an Asian roadshow to promote the aircraft that started May 3. It earlier took in Kazakhstan and Pakistan, and was due to go on to Laos and Vietnam.
A source at the Russian Ministry of Industry and Commerce told the Interfax news agency: "Preparations before the flight were carried out in full, and technically the plane was in perfect condition."
But the Superjet has experienced some troubles while being flown by Russian flag carrier Aeroflot, which has been under heavy pressure from the government to add more Russian planes to its fleet.
Aeroflot's first Superjet spent several weeks grounded upon delivery because of an air conditioning problem, and in March, a plane had to cut short a scheduled flight after it encountered problems with its undercarriage.
The sprawling Indonesian archipelago relies heavily on air transport but has a poor aviation safety record.