Superjet 100 Exonerated, Image Still Under Repair

 - December 24, 2012, 9:30 AM
Yakutia Airlines on December 18 became the second Russian carrier to take delivery of a Superjet. (Photo: SuperJet International)

Indonesian aviation authorities have found that human factors and a series of small technical problems involving air traffic control led to the crash of Sukhoi Superjet 100 S/N 95004 on May 9 near Jakarta, killing 45 people. Investigators concluded that the cockpit crew of the ill-fated demonstration flight, unaware of the mountainous area surrounding their flight path, disregarded an alert from the airplane’s terrain awareness and warning system (Taws). The report also notes that the Jakarta radar service had not established the minimum vectoring altitudes and lacked a functioning minimum safe altitude warning for the particular area surrounding the crash site on Mount Salak. Finally, says the report, prolonged conversation not related to the progress of the flight distracted the flight crew and resulted in the pilot’s inadvertently exiting a right orbit he had requested and for which he had received ATC approval.

During a special briefing in Moscow Tuesday, Russian deputy minister for industry and trade Yuri Slyusar conceded that, despite the report’s failure to mention any technical fault with the airplane, the accident had already damaged the Superjet’s reputation. “This catastrophe delivered a strong blow to the commercial prospects for the Superjet project,” he said. However, he said he thinks that Indonesian type certification and plans by local airline PT SkyAviation to take delivery of its first airplane by the end of this year have repaired the Superjet’s image to a degree.

Sukhoi claims the Superjet 100 holds an 8-percent efficiency advantage over the Embraer E190, but few examples of the Sukhoi have yet to enter service. Not until December 18 did Sukhoi deliver another SSJ100–to Russia’s Yakutia Airlines–since sending Aeroflot its tenth in September. Under a newly adjusted plan, Sukhoi plans to assemble 25 airplanes next year, 42 in 2014 and 50 in 2015.

As of December 16, Aeroflot’s Superjet fleet averaged between 1.9 and 3.9 hours’ utilization a day and had amassed nearly 15,400 hours during 8,138 flights. While giving a generally positive assessment of the airplane’s handling qualities, Aeroflot has complained of high noise during extension and retraction of the wing high-lift devices, false fuel readings and spotty reliability of the air conditioning system. Software, after repeated updates, continues to cause problems, as has the flight management system (FMS) in certain modes. A more serious flaw involves the Taws, which works correctly only when both pilots have selected the same map scale on their navigation displays. Should a crewmember select a different map scale, a “TAWS FAIL” warning message appears and “TERRAIN” vanishes from both screens. Finally, the system does not supply information on terrain at flight altitudes above 2,000 feet agl.

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The irony of this situation escapes you, I'm sure. So let me elaborate. Same pilot would have saved the plane and landed it even if it's wings fell off, he was that good. He functioned his best under pressure and did not function at all in a normal situation. Once again Pogosian outsmarted himself by putting a test pilot behind the wheel - regular pilot with a standard balance of fear and responsibility would have done a much better job and saved the day... and amen to that.

The last paragraph shows that the averaged numbers of flight hours per day for the aeroflot SJ 100 span fron 1,9-3,9 hours per day for 15440 flight hours and 8138 flights.

Simple arithmetic applied to live operational data shows different results. Here are the details:
Number of operational month for each aircraft:

The number of months is calculated from the in-service date first flight tfor each aircraft to 2012 december 06 as state din this article though numbers may be slightly different from other sources.

Months Aircraft #

17,72 First aircraft
15,39 Second
12,92 Third
11,28 Fourth
10,45 Fith
9,04 Sixth
7,92 Seventh
6,41 Eighth
3,91 Ninth
2,53 Tenth aircraft
97,6 Months of operations (Total number of months)

97,6 Times (365/12)= 2968 flying days.
2968 Days of operation for the total fleet of 10 SSJ100 totalling 15440 flight hours and 8138 flights.

So the averaged flight hours per day for the whole fleet is équal to 15440/ 2968 = 5,24 hours per day on average. Not 1,9 to 3.0 as stated in this article.

So, using basic grade 4 arithmetic and documented common sense and applied logic it is clearly seen that the above mentioned avereage in the article is non exact..

I am requesting the author of this article that he verifies all data sheeet pertaining to the nmber of hours per day and to offer an honest and documented reply to this observation.

Though pilot Yablontsev was discussing different matters with potential customers while the aircraft was performing an orbital manoever in order to reduce altitude before landing one has to remember that there was another pilot in the aircrapt cokpit with over 8000 flying hours.

The second pilot was also busy talking about a variety of sujets, some being not related to the purpose of the flight, that he also forgot his primary duty which is flying the aircraft to the airport.

This point was not adressed in the final report: The rôle played by the second pilot durint the last minutes of flight. Was he in the cockpit?

One can conclude that this flight was badly planned and conducted as well as the overall planning of the the trip to Asia.

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