Farnborough Air Show

Engine to power Superjet makes successful first run

 - November 16, 2006, 12:07 PM

PowerJet, the 50/50 partnership between France’s Snecma and Russia’s NPO Saturn, successfully ran up the first SaM146 engine for the Sukhoi Superjet 100 on July 9 at the Rybinsk test and assembly facility.

The 14,000- to 17,500-pound-thrust engine was run for 2.5 minutes during the test, said PowerJet CEO Michel Dechelotte. “We were very pleased with the engine and we’re preparing for the second run very soon. We expect this will take the engine to full power,” he added.

NPO Saturn has completed about 90 percent of the work to upgrade the Rybinsk facility for the SaM program, said a Snecma source, with a new open-air test cell completed and due to begin certification testing in September. Eight SaM146 engines and one high-pressure core will be tested in the program.

Dechelotte said the engine would not be available for applications beyond 18,000 pounds of thrust since that is where the CFM56 power band begins “and we have an agreement with them not to enter that range.” No other applications for the engine are foreseen at present, he added.

Flight testing of the SaM146 will begin next February with certification by Russian, European and U.S authorities set for March 2008. It will be the first Russian-built engine to achieve international certification.

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC) unveiled Superjet 100 as the new name for the 95-seat Russian Regional Jet here at Farnborough
International yesterday. Rather grandly subtitled “the world’s first super regional jet,” the project appears otherwise unchanged.

The Russian design bureau is at pains to emphasize the program’s international credentials: “Built in collaboration with the finest aviation companies in Europe and America, with Boeing as a consultant. If rivals aren’t developing an inferiority complex by now, they will after visiting www.sukhoi.superjet100.com.”

Sukhoi has recently formalized a strategic relationship with Finmeccanica, whose Alenia Aeronautica division is taking a one-quarter share of the Russian manufacturer for about $100 million, part of a larger injection of up to $250 million in SCAC. Last month, Alenia chief executive Giovanni Bertolone was reported to have identified project rebranding as a possible evolutionary change that could arise from talks with potential customers.

The partners may now select a new location for sales and technical offices in western Europe. According to reports attributed to a Finmeccanica official, the Italian company has suggested that European regional airliner manufacturer ATR, in which the Italian group is a partner, might become involved–perhaps in customer support or sales.

Under the partnership, Finmeccanica also will make components and equipment and oversee European airworthiness approval.