A day before the opening of last month’s Moscow airshow, Sukhoi, Ilyushin and Boeing signed a series of agreements on the regional jet program proposed in mid-April during Boeing CEO Phil Condit’s visit to Moscow. Dubbed the “Russian Regional Jet” (RRJ), the program is aimed at building a prototype in 2004, certification in 2005 and service entry in 2006 or 2007.
At the end of June, Sukhoi announced the creation of the “new” Sukhoi Aviation Corporation, with the consolidation of a number of design and manufacturing companies, including Moscow-based OKB Sukhogo (the Sukhoi design bureau) and the Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Komsomolsk-na-Amure and Taganrog aircraft plants.
As startling as the absence of current airliners from the Boeing stable was the gaping void created by the lack of any of Russia’s fearsome fighters in the flying display. Many observers felt that the show was the poorer for the lack of the thrust-vectoring wonders of Mikoyan and Sukhoi.
Officials at Sukhoi have revealed next to nothing about the company’s proposed supersonic business jet program over the last 12 months. However, during a joint U.S./Russian roundtable discussion on aviation issues in May, Sukhoi general director Mikhail Pogosyan, one of the speakers, said “certain progress” had been achieved during a joint feasibility study with Boeing, not only on the Russian Regional Jet, but also on the SSBJ.
Russia’s Sukhoi expects its Superjet 100 regional jet to fly for the first time next month and likely not enter domestic airline service for at least another year, program officials told AIN this week. That puts the troubled program some six months behind the schedule Sukhoi published last fall.
The Powerjet SaM146 turbofan chosen to power the Sukhoi Superjet 100 finished the first phase of flight testing on the program’s Ilyushin Il-76LL testbed early last month, logging more than 30 flying hours during 14 flights, according to director of SaM146 flight testing Yuri Basyuk.
Sukhoi Civil Aircraft hopes to make the first engine runs on its PowerJet SaM146-equipped Superjet 100 this week as it awaits authorization to begin flight tests that it now says could take place in about a month’s time. A second aircraft, now undergoing completion, could fly before June, according to Sukhoi.
Few have doubted Russia’s aerospace engineering capabilities but many observers have questioned weather the country could deliver the marketing and customer support needed to successfully export civil airliners.
The newly formed Superjet International joint venture–based in Venice, Italy–carries the responsibility for alleviating any lingering doubts.
Sukhoi’s new Superjet 100 could be ready to make its long-awaited first flight by the end of this month. Powerjet–the joint venture between France’s Snecma and Russia’s NPO Saturn that is developing the regional airliner’s SaM146 engine–has said that it has applied for a flight permit, having completed more than 30 hours during 14 flights with the turbofan mounted on an Ilyushin Il-76LL testbed.
China’s march to overhaul its front-line fighter fleet is making good progress, thanks to two major indigenous production programs involving the Chengdu J-10 and Shenyang J-11 models. The Chengdu product is an all-Chinese design that is now entering service in numbers. The J-11 is a license-built Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker, which in its latest production version incorporates important Chinese components.