Delays to engine certification stall Superjet’s entry into service

 - December 29, 2009, 10:03 AM

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC) missed its December target for delivery of the first Superjet 100 regional jets to launch operator Aeroflot after delays involving the certification and delivery of the program’s PowerJet SaM146 engines forced the Russian manufacturer to revise its schedules once again.

“Unfortunately, PowerJet delays the engine certification and deliveries and we are even forced to begin factory ground tests [on the fourth aircraft] with the engine’s signal simulator on…and later in December on the first production one,” an SCAC spokesperson told AIN early last month. “So for us it is of highest importance now, that [PowerJet] launches full-scale engine ramp up production at NPO Saturn in Russia and stabilizes SaM146 deliveries.”

The latest plans before the still unspecified engine certification “issues” arose called for Aeroflot to receive its first Superjet last month. Now it appears Aeroflot and Armenia’s Armavia, originally scheduled to take its first airplane at around the same time, could have to wait until April, according to Russian media reports.

However, by the second week of December the Sukhoi spokesperson said she still did not know when the fourth airplane’s engines would arrive at SCAC’s Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Russia final assembly site, and that the timing of the Superjet’s certification hinges entirely on Powerjet’s ability to gain certification of the engines. At press time representatives from Powerjet partners Snecma of France and Russia’s NPO Saturn had yet to respond to AIN’s requests for comment.

Meanwhile, the fourth flight-test aircraft has achieved power on with the aid of the signal simulator, and SCAC planned to begin factory ground tests late last month. It said it would transfer the second production aircraft to factory ground systems testing by the middle of this month.

As of last month the three SSJ100s involved in the flight-test program had accumulated more than 1,300 hours in the air during more than 500 flights. In late October EASA test pilots completed a seven-flight test regime to evaluate performance, stability and control with ice shapes at high angles of attack.

“Thus far we have managed to deal with over 50 percent of the critical review items suggested by EASA upon evaluation of our certification basis,” said first vice president of SSJ100 program coordination Igor Vinogradov. �