Superjet International insists that it will meet its commitment to deliver the first of its Superjet 100s to Aeroflot and Armavia before year-end despite another short projected delay in completing Russian certification in October, as opposed to September. A breakthrough for the delayed program came less than a month ago on June 23 when the airliner’s SaM146 engine achieved certification by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The powerplant (see related article on page 36) is now set to complete the Russian approval process before the end of this month.
One of the four development Superjets built so far is making an appearance here at the Farnborough airshow. At the end of this week, the aircraft will be heading to Italy to undergo noise, precision landing and intensity radiation tests at Alenia Aeronautica’s Caselle factory near Turin. Superjet International is a joint venture between Alenia and Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Co. (SCAC).
The four prototypes have logged more than 1,750 flight hours. EASA certification for the aircraft is expected by mid-2011, which will trigger the first deliveries to Western operators. In fact, Aeroflot also has insisted that the Superjet be certified to European standards, since it is used to operating Airbus aircraft–as is Armavia–and both carriers have made it clear that they are expecting Western standards of after-sales support for the twinjet.
This is where Venice-based Superjet International comes in. The company has signed an agreement with Lufthansa Logistic for its main spares warehouse to be run out of Frankfurt, Germany. Plans are already in place to establish spares inventory in the Far East and also in the U.S.–possibly in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where Lufthansa Logistic already has a facility. Another spares storehouse will be located in Moscow to support the Aeroflot fleet.
“We are offering different types of support scheme, which goes from the acquisition of spares and autonomous maintenance to full repair schemes, some of them including up to the APU and landing gear,” explained Superjet International CEO Alessandro Franzoni. Similar schemes are being proposed also by Powerjet for the SaM146 engine.
For maintenance, repair and overhaul operations, Superjet International has already been certified to work on the A320 family. Franzoni explained that it made this move to get approved for another, potentially rival, airliner because it didn’t want to be making a cold start to getting MRO certification for the Superjet. Also, there are significant similarities in terms of powerplant and avionics between the new Russian narrowbody and the ubiquitous A320. So Superjet International already holds EASA 145 and 147 maintenance approvals and their Russian equivalents.
The Aeroflot contract includes line maintenance covering the Superjet for the first six months in service, as most of the airline’s own mechanics will be busy supporting its existing A320 fleet. In this period, Superjet technicians will also train their Aeroflot counterparts.
This activity in the field will allow the aircraft manufacturer to get first-hand operational feedback that will be made available to all the other customers. The 24/7 after-sales operation will be carried out from Venice, and customers will be able to order and track spares availability online. The Superjet spares system is interfaced with that of Lufthansa Logistic, which allows the manufacturer to verify online parts availability and repair status.
Two Training Centers
Two Superjet training centers are being established, one in Moscow and the other in Venice. Each following identical systems in term of syllabus, procedures and training equipment.
An emergency evacuation trainer is undergoing acceptance in the UK and will be installed in Venice in late July. A Level 2 flight training device will be installed in Moscow before year-end, while the full flight simulator will follow in mid-2011, at which time the Venice center will get these two simulators. The Venice training center is initially being installed in a rented hangar; however, Superjet International plans to build a new structure at the Venezia Tessera Airport, which will also be the company’s new headquarters.
From late 2011 the company plans also to acquire control of part of the former Alenia Aeronavali facility, where maintenance operations will be carried out. The training center in Moscow is being created at the Zhukovsky air base, where operations are due to start this fall–three months before the first aircraft deliveries.
Superjet is qualifying numerous MRO companies to carry out maintenance on the aircraft, without operators having to fly long distances. The planned network is already fairly well defined, but not announced, in Europe and is being improved in North America and the Far East.
“We currently have 122 firm orders for the Superjet 100,” Franzoni said, adding that this does not include 30 aircraft ordered by Hungarian flagcarrier Malev, for which the contract was delayed due to airline restructuring.
Now Superjet is focusing its marketing efforts in Latin America and Africa. In the former region, some good results are expected in the second half of this year. The African market is more fragmented, but Superjet is identifying emerging clusters of demand in all four corners of the continent.
“We offer an aircraft smaller than the A319, which can provide similar levels of comfort and amenities, and with considerable space for hand luggage,” Franzoni stressed, stating that the Russian aircraft’s luggage volume is greater than that in the A319/320 and the seats are wider than those of the A320.
Superjet claims that its aircraft’s operating costs will be at least 10 percent lower than those of its rivals. It also projects that the twinjet will have a more competitive break-even rate on at least some routes.