Sukhoi Civil Aircraft (SCAC) this year shipped 22 new SSJ100 regional jets and placed six used aircraft against the earlier plan of 30 total deliveries, due partly to a shortage of PowerJet SaM.146 turbofans, according to company CEO Alexander Roubtsov. The plan for next year calls for 28 to 30 deliveries, including 22 new from the factory and six to eight aircraft from the existing stock. The following years will see a rise in shipments to more than 30, he added.
Even though the Snecma-Saturn Powerjet partners produced SaM.146s at the planned rate, a few engines destined for new airframes instead went to the replacement stock run jointly by the airframe and engine makers. The stock now accounts for about twenty SaM.146s, which get leased to SSJ100 operators in the event they experience an engine failure.
This year the SSJ100 operators—which now number 16—experienced more problems than anticipated due to new durability deficiencies associated with the SaM.146’s combustor. The industry has addressed the issues with the enlarged replacement stock and a number of technical improvements and service bulletins, but the implementation required more engine removals. To reduce the fleet downtime, the manufacturers introduced a number of measures to cut repair times. Over the course of several years, a typical time for SAM.146 repair has come down from one year to 60 to 70 days, Roubtsov told AIN.
For its part, SCAC has also invested heavily in customer service and achieved a 40 percent increase in the volume of maintenance work done on the Superjet fleet over the course of 2017-2018. As of late December, the 136 SSJ100s that flew with passenger airlines and corporate operators registered a fleet readiness of 89 percent. The number covers airplanes in active service excluding those undergoing planned heavy maintenance. Roubtsov insisted the active fleet will grow as new airframes come off the assembly line in Komsomolsk-upon-Amur and earlier ones receive missing SaM.146 engines as their production rate increases.
Meanwhile, the stock of used airplanes now grounded but fit for service, which number about a dozen jets, will gradually melt away. SCAC intends to place them with Slovenia's Adria Airways, Russia's Azimuth Airlines, and some smaller airline customers such as a startup carrier in Thailand expected to commence flight operations on the Superjet next year, following the signing of a contract at the end of 2018. In 2019-2020, Adria expects to receive fifteen SSJ100s, including several used airplanes from the stock. Roubtsov also mentioned the first SSJ100 shipment on Wednesday to a new Russian operator, Severstal, a corporate arm of the steel giant. “This year was a difficult one for us, but we managed to find solutions to most of the pressing issues and are optimistic about the Superjet’s future,” Roubtsov concluded.