Engine problem hampers merchandising of Sukhoi Superjet 100

Sukhoi Superjet 100The Russian civil aircraft Sukhoi Superjet 100 has problems with engine hot part, which hampers the development of the plane and its merchandise. The engine of the French manufacturer Safran fails much faster than the manufacturer promises.

Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ 100) has problems with the engine, according to top managers of four airlines that operate these aircraft, as well as three sources close to the leasing companies that buy such aircraft.

The problem with SaM146 engine occur in the so-called hot part of the engine, where fuel is burned. Safran supplies it. Cracks can appear in the combustion chambers or oil collectors after 2000–4000 flight hours (that is, already in the second year of the aircraft’s operation), and sometimes after 1000 flight hours. The engine must be sent to overhaul. Although the manufacturer promises that before the overhaul the engine should work 7500-8000 hours. This is a constructive flaw.

The SSJ 100 is designed for short and medium flights. It is completed with two engines SaM146. They are created specifically for this project. They are produced by the joint venture of the Russian company ODK-Saturn (part of the United Engine Corporation) and the French Safran – Powerjet. SSJ 100 are delivered to airlines since 2011, but so far they fly very little. The average flight time in Russia in 2017 was 3.3 hours a day.

Powerjet engine production is limited, say a person close to the leasing company, and a person close to the manufacturer of the SSJ 100. The company can produce 60–70 engines per year for 30–35 aircraft. All of them go to the new SSJ 100, but they do not have enough for a replacement pool, continues one of the interlocutors.

To correct problems in the hot part of the engine, serious investments are needed, including expansion of production, but Safran does not want to do this. After all, at the start of the program it was planned to release 1,300 SSJ 100, then the plans were reduced to about 900, and in 2015 – to 595 aircraft. This is commercially less promising for an engine supplier, explains one of the interviewees.