Its reliability is actually pretty good, as far as dispatch reliability goes (over 98-99%, which few planes can brag about). For a new plane that’s fresh out of development, it’s had some teething problems which are expected, but comparatively it looks very favourably. It’s a good investment especially for startups, - the biggest issue facing Sukhoi Civil Aviation division is post-sales support, simply because they haven’t got the network yet, but even that’s been improving - having to develop for international markets has taught them a lot of lessons and they learned quickly. The political environment is an issue as well, but then you also have MC-21 which is the ‘second step’ of new indigenous development, and which will help with revamping industries for engines, avionics and so on, so long-term that has the opportunity to redress this balance.
Internationally, I think the reason it hasn’t had huge popularity is mainly because the industry has a wait-and-see approach. Between Boeing, Airbus and Embraer (and Bombardier to a lesser extent) the market has several established players that have a certain assurance level on quality and support. Russian aviation industry has been in turmoil and only in the last ten years started to reestablish itself, - so I understand the scepticism. On the other hand, CityJet, Brussels, Finnair (I know that they’re leased from CityJet for B and F, but I’m referring to operators here) and Interjet aren’t something to sneeze at. People that have flown on it in Europe (as per some interviews and reports I read in the Western press) gave it very favourable reviews as well. So if it proves itself there for a few years, it could have a bright future. Remember, even the 747 may not have even made it at one point right at the beginning. The CFM-56 engine almost didn’t make it, and now it’s one of the most successful engines in the world, if not THE most successful - so time will tell, really.
Now, as far as IF goes - personally, I would absolutely love to have a plane from my homeland featured. It’s suitable for a very large number of airfields, - not that we have a shortage of places where the heavies can go now, of course, - but things like single-aisle FNF events for example can have a nice little boost. If the flight model is done right, it should be a nimble, performant little jet and I bet it’d be a ton of fun to fly. Especially the ‘sabrelet’ version that can get into London City airport :)