Sukhoi Superjet: More orders, departing customers
The Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) is a regional aircraft designed by Sukhoi, a division of the United Aircraft Corporation, and developed with a variety of foreign partners. The goal of the aircraft is to compete agressively with existing regional airliners such as the Airbus A220 (previously Bombardier CSeries), Embraer E-Jet and Bombardier CRJ family.
Two French/Russian SaM-146 engines power the aircraft through the air with a max seat count of 108 passengers. With a full load of fuel, passengers and cargo, the aircraft can fly anywhere between 3050km and 4600km (1894mi – 2845mi).
Armavia was the first airline to receive the first production aircraft on the 19th of April in 2011.
Over the course of its service so far, the aircraft has had a rough history when it comes to reliability. Cases of metal fatigue were located in the tail sections of some aircraft resulting in the grounding of six SSJ100s.
Cracking in the horizontal stabilizer has also been noted during servicing of the aircraft and reliability of the SaM-146 engines has proven to be lackluster due to the slow support for parts and servicing.
So with all this in mind, where does the aircraft sit today?
Aeroflot orders additional aircraft
Aeroflot – the flag carrier of Russia – has made an agreement with Sukhoi for 100 additional SSJ100 regional aircraft.
Set to be delivered between 2019 and 2026, the aircraft will be configured in a two-class layout with a total of 87 seats consisting of 12 business and 75 economy.
With the deals signed by Aeroflot chief executive Vitaly Saveliev and Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Yury Slyusar, Sukhoi is beaming with pride about the fact that Aeroflot is continuing to commit to the SSJ100.
Aeroflot has 49 of the type in operation with the 50th and final aircraft of the inital order expected to arrive in the coming months. This new top up order has been noted by Slyusar as a “new page in this collaboration”.
Interjet wants to say goodbye
Interjet of Mexico is currently negotiating with Sukhoi to sell its fleet of SSJ100s.
The airline is pinpointing maintenance issues, operating costs and reliability as its sole reason for wanting to say farewell to the aircraft.
Over the course of five years, the aircraft has been on and off within the airline’s network. One aircraft currently remains in storage and a further eight are yet to be delivered.
Lack of parts and product support is to blame according to the airline who ran into various situations where they were forced to ground aircraft over technical faults.
2017 saw the immediate grounding of 11 SSJ100s due to manufacturing/design defects being located on the stabilizer nodes.
It was then in earlier 2018 that airline had four aircraft set aside that were being cannibalized to provide a parts for the remaining fleet. Sukhoi provided the airline $40 million in compensation but was not enough to cover the loss of aircraft and flights.
It’s worth noting at during the time of these issues, Interjet switched between liking and disliking the aircraft, suggesting they had negotiated a deal for the SSJ100 order outlining the capital cost of 10 aircraft nearly matching the pre-delivery costs of a single Airbus A320, which is roughly 15-30% of an aircraft list price.
Ideas have floated around putting forward the fact that Interjet could pass the aircraft on to Iran which is soon to be subject to trade laws hindering deliveries from Airbus and Boeing or to give them to Aeroflot. No firm date has been provided as to when the decision is to be made but anytime within a few days or weeks has been listed by the airline.
If the decision is made to remove them from service, Interjet will reportedly fill the slots with A320neos.
All this aside, the aircraft and its goal is good. Should all the problems be sorted out and manufacturing speeds up, we could potentially see more customers but for now, the big regional members of Bombardier and Embraer are going to continue to dominate the market, and with Airbus and Boeing now pouncing on existing products, could we see a decrease in outlier aircraft such as the SSJ?
Interjet has taken back comments it just said about the SSJ and has instead decided to keep the aircraft in operation.
Note: Apologies for the update – timing was terrible as this news broke just as this was posted.