Archive For The “Superjet” Category

Iran and the SSJ – an ongoing courtship

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The Russian side has been the more vocal; frequently advising the world that an SSJ order from Iran is imminent.  Today there is news that might explain the lack of progress to date.

The OFAC has been a thorn in the side of any aerospace OEM trying to do business in Iran.  Since so much of what goes into a modern commercial aircraft is made in the USA, OFAC gets to play a spoiler role if that content is greater than 10%.

Sukhoi has apparently managed to reduce USA-content to below 10%.  This means Iran can acquire the SSJ without a license from OFAC.  Importantly, this time the news came from the Iranian side.  The cited article offers two other useful data points: Iran needs regional jets and the SSJ pricing is between $20-25m.

We assess the chances of a deal for the SSJ in Iran now to be higher than before.

The economy has to improve its air travel access to move forward. Iran’s economy has been stifled by aging aircraft and limited new aircraft that kept air travel way below what it might have been.  Moreover, if the pricing on the SSJ is really where deals are being considered, then Iranian airlines are looking at an attractive offering.  Our pricing guidance in the west for the SSJ has been somewhat higher than the $25m cited in Iran.  It would seem reasonable that the Iranian pricing does not include the Venice installed Pininfarina cabin.

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The SSJ shrink choice

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SCAC (Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company) announced they are planning on a 75-seat “shrink” version of their SuperJet.  The current SSJ100 seats 98-103.   The new aircraft will be upgraded in several areas, including engines, avionics, and aerodynamics. The image below shows an aerodynamic enhancement for the aircraft, including the addition of “saberlets” on the wingtips.

SCAC has been talking about a three-size family from 65, 75 and 95 seats from the onset of the program, and are following through with a second model.  Shrinks are not as popular as stretches, as they have proven themselves to be economically compromised.  The SCAC decision to move downward to a 75-seat version potentially fulfills a market need.

The idea of a smaller version is not outlandish considering the market.  The more typical decision would be to go for a stretch beyond 100 seats.  Doing this though puts the SSJ up against the CS300 and E195-E2 – which is going to be a very harsh competitive environment.

But look at the 75-seat market and you see a different situation.  The market incumbents are Bombardier and Embraer.  Moreover, the most influential market for aircraft of this size is the US regional airline market.  What the US regionals select effectively drives the market for the rest of the world, given their large fleet requirements.

There are two models currently in favor in that market, the Embraer E175, and Bombardier CRJ900.   Both have strong penetration into large fleets.  The E175 is planned to retire in favor of the E175-E2, but the latter is too heavy for current US scope clauses.  As long as the E175-E2 does not meet scope requirements, that aircraft has a difficult situation to overcome.  Most of its orders are from US regional airlines that cannot deploy it, given current scope.   The forthcoming, and delayed, Mitsubishi Regional Jet faces the same issue.

The current scope clauses expire in 2020 but are expected to be re-ratified in union contracts negotiations in 2019 to extend them for another five years through 2025.  That effectively blocks the E175-E2 and MRJ from the US market.

This means US regional airlines will have limited choices, staying with the existing E175 and the CRJ900.  The E175, while a modern aircraft, lacks the significant economic benefits of the re-engined E2 model, and the CRJ900 is an older, more uncomfortable design with limited passenger appeal.  An opportunity exists if Sukhoi can effectively enter this market with a modern aircraft.

The redesign of the SSJ100 means losing four rows of seats with its five abreast configuration.  It would seem that SCAC is eyeing the US market since the scope clause has two key numbers – 76 seats and 86,000 pounds MTOW.  The SSJ can easily get the seat numbers right, but can it meet the weight restriction?  SCAC would likely not have said a word unless they are confident.  The OEM is talking about a new wing and using the same Pratt & Whitney GTF engines found on the MRJ.  The GTF engines are likely to be heavier than the PowerJet engines on the current SSJ.

But these are technical questions that have technical solutions.  The Russian aerospace industry has shown that with the MC-21 they can produce a world class composite wing that is light and efficient.  SCAC also mentioned that they are considering adding MC-21 flight deck upgrades to this new SSJ.   To get an idea of how influential the MC-21 is, the new SSJ even might be named the MC-21-75.

Assuming the new model SSJ moves forward, the real challenge is this: getting that aircraft certified by the FAA.   Until this happens, no US regional can consider it.  Is that a “bridge too far”?  The answer is no.  The US regionals are “bottom feeders.” Their margins are razor thin and any aircraft that brings with it complexity and high cost are not easily adopted.  But at the same time, these airlines want lower fuel burn and improved efficiencies.  Which is why they ordered the MRJ and E175-E2.  The demand is there.  SCAC ‘s decision to consider this market is not a bad choice at all.

The next step for SCAC is to confirm they can provide a better wing solution, utilize the GTF and meet those key scope limits.  The market is attractive because US scope does not look like easing until 2025 at the earliest.  But there is one more challenge that must be met.  The US regionals are big and buy lots of aircraft – can SCAC produce fast enough?  As one US regional airline president told us “If I want the SSJ, they’ll get it certified”.

The Bottom Line:  SCAC is aiming at the right market segment.  But it’s a challenging road to get to the right solution.  This challenge is primarily technical, including obtaining FAA certification  (not impossible since the SSJ has EASA certification), getting the aircraft scope compliant, having at least a 10% economic improvement over the incumbents, pricing the aircraft attractively, and ensuring certainty in a production schedule.  If SCAC can accomplish all this, their chances of winning major orders will be quite good.

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Pratt & Whitney having a great show

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The Singapore air show got off to a start yesterday.  It hasn’t been a noisy affair.  Boeing picked up a lot of service business – which is a key goal for the company.  Boeing also seems to be using the show to broaden discussions with the world beyond customers about its 797.  The big question though is where are Boeing and Embraer going with their deal?  There are some conflicting stories about this – some media talk about a 90% deal and others indicate Brazil will not be rushed into this. The Brazilian air force now seems to hold the decision.

The company that seems to be having a great show so far is Pratt & Whitney.  It announced an inauguration of GP7200 overhaul capability at its Singapore engine center.  Pratt & Whitney also announced orders to supply GTF engines for A320neo for Aviation Capital Group (20 aircraft), SWISS (15), Aircalin (2) and lessor BOC Aviation (12).  Then subsidiary Pratt & Whitney Canada signed a contract with Qantas Airways for the maintenance of 51 APUs on aircraft flown by the Qantas Group. The contract covers 20 APS2100 APUs for QantasLink Boeing 717s; 19 APS5000 APUs for Jetstar and Qantas Boeing 787s; and 12 PW980 APUs for Qantas Airbus A380s.

To top this off, Sukhoi announced that they are working on a 75-seat shrink of their SSJ and considering using the same version of the GTF seen on the MRJ for this aircraft.  Considering the GTF is also found on the C Series, E2, neo, and MC-21 this is an excellent statement of confidence in that engine.  One might argue that for the market between 75 to 150 seats, the market has embraced the GTF as the new standard. Having a GTF solution for the A321 and MC-21 helps boost that program all the way to over 200 seats.

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First SSJ100 Test Flight with Saberlets Performed Successfully

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Superjet International provided us with information on the forthcoming winglets for the SSJ.  These winglets are being called “Saberlets”.

Today a Sukhoi Superjet 100 performed its first flight with the saberlets at Zhukovsky.   The saber-like configuration of the tips installed on to the Superjet 100 are the result of several research, engineering and experimental activities carried out by Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company with the assistance of Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI).

The geometry of the tips was determined with the implementation of innovative methods of 3D optimization based on Computational Fluid Dynamics – an internal TsAGI know-how used in Russian aviation industry in particular for Sukhoi Superjet 100 program.

The results of research and experiments show the installation of the saber-like tips allows to simultaneously improve the take-off and landing performance and decrease the fuel consumption by at least 3%.

The expected improvement of the take-off and landing characteristics will be obvious for carriers operating the aircraft on regional runways and in hot weather conditions as well as on mountains.

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company is consequently implementing the Sukhoi Superjet 100 improvement program aiming at market expansion and the increase of the number of Customers, the current Operators satisfaction level growth and the maintenance of the high competitive level of the product. The wing tips installation being the part of the improvement program will provide the operators with cost cut up to $70 000 per year per one SSJ100“, said President of the Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company Alexander Rubtsov.

The end of a full-scale program of ground and flight tests will result in the certification of the SSJ100 with the saberlets and they will be offered as an option to customers. The installation of the tips is possible not only for new aircraft but also as a retrofit.  VASO (Voronezh aircraft manufacturer) is the manufacturer of the saberlets kits, the materials used are certified in Russia as well as abroad.

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SSJ certified for short runways plus noise reduction

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In a press release out today, Superjet International announced: “Since the beginning of July 2017 Sukhoi Superjet 100 has successfully performed flights to one of the oldest airports of Northern Europe – Bromma (Sweden). It has relatively short runway of 1660 m and it is situated

within the boundaries of the city, unlike most European airports. Besides, for landing in Bromma, SSJ100 needs only 1425 m even loaded with maximum landing weight.

The improved takeoff performance has been successfully confirmed during the certification as a result of a series of actions aimed at SSJ100 improvements for certain customers tasks. The aircraft within the customers fleet were upgraded by the B100 option – the increased thrust engine with maximum takeoff weight, avionics software optimization as well as the lift devices control system improvements – all that allowed to reduce the necessary takeoff and landing distance.

Moreover, one of the main demands of Bromma authorities was completely met up with: the noise level reduction for the environment due to the houses situated close to the runway. The Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company, the SSJ100 manufacturer, put into practice the environment noise level not more than 89 Db if measured in three points, in full compliance with ICAO Annex16.”

While there is no mention of London City, CityJet is now a crucial SSJ customer with a significant interest in that airport.  The short runway and noise information above, we think, alludes to what is coming next.  As the airline retires its Avros and gets more SSJs, they will need to be able to use that aircraft at LCY.

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Premium – Aeroflot Fleet Review

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Continuing our fleet review series, today we look at Aeroflot.  The company has gone through various iterations, lie so many others.  Its roots go back to 1923.  During the Soviet era, this was the world's largest airline.  Offering flights across the Soviet Union and abroad. Its domestic service had very low fares and huge traffic.  In 1966 it carried over 47m passengers.  It was the first airline to use jets in regular service in 1956. It was also the first airline to operate a regional jet in 1968 (Yak-40).

But the post-Soviet era came with big shocks as Russia, the CIS and, consequently, Aeroflot had to adjust.

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