'New' Superjet’s Russian Engine Readies for Flight

 - May 17, 2022, 11:53 AM
The original version of the SSJ100 performs a flying display at the 2021 MAKS airshow outside Moscow. (Photo: Vladimir Karnozov)

Russia’s United Engine Corporation (Russian acronym ODK) has completed ground testing of the PD-8 turbofan and has begun preparing it for flight trials on the Ilyushin-76LL testbed later this year. The manufacture of two experimental engines has begun for installation on a Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) by year-end. Should flight testing go as planned, the re-engined, re-wired Superjet-NEW (SSJ100NEW) will gain a supplemental type certificate in late 2023 and enter commercial service in 2024.

Work on the new engine for the SSJ100 100-seater and Beriev Be-200 amphibian started in 2020 at ODK’s Saturn design bureau in Rybinsk. The company had previously developed the cold section for the PowerJet SAM.146 that powers the original SSJ100. To cut development time and costs, ODK decided to mate the existing cold section with a new gas-generator that would be a scaled copy of one in the Aviadvigatel PD-14 that powers the Irkut MC-21-310 narrowbody jetliner. The new core replaces the DEM.21 from Snecma (now Safran Aircraft Engines), which the French company contributed in 2008 for its joint program with the Russians.

Saturn exhibited the first gas-generator for the PD-8 at last July’s MAKS 2021 airshow outside Moscow, assembled the second in September 2021, and tested them through the end of the year. It then produced a complete engine for a series of bench trials that began in early 2022 and involved closed/opened stands and an altitude chamber.

Instrumented with 500 sensors, the experimental engine enabled data collection on temperature fields, stiffness, and vibration levels, as well as adjustment/tuning of Fadec to stabilize fuel burn at all modes, from idle to maximum takeoff power. Engineers performed checks for proper functioning of fuel and lubrication systems. According to an ODK statement issued on May 11, the PD-8 is “fully functioning” and its “main parameters meet the specification.”

According to ODK’s data, the PD-8 has a dry weight of 1,690 kg (3,726 pounds) or 18 kg less than that of the SAM.146-1S18, while generating the same maximum thrust of 7,900 kN (17,416 pounds). Specifications show a 3 percent improvement in fuel consumption during cruise flight.

The company plans to produce the PD-8 in several versions with thrust of up to 10,000 kN—above the respective figures for the SAM.146. The new gas-generator features a 20 percent higher pressure ratio and an increase in gas temperature of 100 degrees C. An increase in power allows for a higher maximum takeoff weight, currently at 49,450 kg for the SSJ-100LR introduced in 2012, raising the possibility of a stretched version that would increase the seat number to more than today’s upper limit of 108.

The aviation plant in Komsomolsk-upon-Amur can produce up to 40 Superjets a year, but it has been running at less than half that capacity due in part to a shortage of vendor items, including SAM.146 engines. United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) CEO Yuri Slyusar explained that the shortage resulted from Western restrictions on high-tech shipments into Russia “well before” the Russian army invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

To eliminate dependence on foreign vendors, the Kremlin allocated $1.83 billion for the development of a completely indigenous Superjet, dubbed the SSJ100NEW. About half of that sum goes to the PD-8, including production preparations. To reduce unit costs, ODK plans to expand the use of 3D printing technology.

Should local vendors manage to produce enough components, UAC plans to boost the Superjet production rate from 20 in 2022 to 30 in 2024-2025 and then to more than 40. Because the West now declines to sell aircraft to Russian airlines, they can buy only from the local industry. UAC estimates the domestic demand for SSJ100 at 150 aircraft.