RRJ Passes Critical Design Reviews

 - October 2, 2006, 11:53 AM

The Sukhoi-led consortium building the Russian Regional Jet got some good news when the RRJ-95B/LR and RRJ-75B/LR passed their critical design reviews (CDR) after some 120 technical specialists from Western program partners joined Sukhoi engineers for a July 11 to 16 “dream team” session in Moscow.

Contracted to provide consultancy services, Boeing sent RRJ program director Bill Jarell and product development directors David Anderson and Bob Woodling. Regional jet engines general manager Michel Doublier represented Snecma and avionics department manager Pierre Bonnet the aerospace division of Thales.

While most of the systems passed the CDRs, some remain subject to change, according to Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC) general director Victor Subbotin. SCAC continues to supply RRJ digital drawings to Russia’s KnAAPO and NAPO production plants as airframe production unfolds, he added.

Last month the RRJ partners hoped to launch the program into full-scale production during Russia’s MAKS Air Show, which opened on August 16. The Russian government is applying pressure on Aeroflot and Sibir to convert their memoranda of understanding to firm orders at the show. The government has also offered the airlines import-tax waivers for Western aircraft in exchange for RRJ firm orders. It has held similar talks with Pulkovo, KrasAir and UTair.

While Sukhoi claims that long-cycle parts production for four RRJ-95LR prototype airframes started at the KnAAPO plant in April, the Western partners are demanding from the Russian company irreversible firm purchase contracts as the main condition to proceed from product definition to series production.

This month the RRJ airline advisory board plans to hold its fourth session. Sukhoi will present the Western airlines with a “fully determined product with frozen configuration of the airframe and all systems,” according to SCAC commercial director Svetlana Isaeva.

Sukhoi estimates it will need to sell 200 RRJs to reach the program’s break-even point. This “matches well” the respective figures for the SaM146, Isaeva said. NPO Saturn and Snecma estimate they need to sell between 400 and 500 engines to break even. Sukhoi hopes to sell 800 RRJs.