Aeroflot calls for improved Superjet 100 performance

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Aeroflot has made a follow-on order for 10 Sukhoi Superjet 100 regional aircraft, conditional on enhancements to the type.

This follows an in-flight air conditioning system malfunction that grounded its first delivered example for 12 days of the aircraft's first month in revenue service.

The Russian airline's first Superjet 100 entered service on 16 June, and logged 101h across 70 flights in the month that followed.

But technical issues confined it to 17 days of flight-readiness during that period. After its 12-day grounding it re-entered service in the second half of July, performing up to four round trips daily.

In mid-July, Aeroflot general director Vitaly Savelyev wrote a letter to the Russian government listing strong and weak points of the newly acquired aircraft. It came with a promise to buy 10 more Superjet 100s if the discovered flaws were eliminated. "We previously ordered 30 Superjets and are ready to firm up a follow-on order for 10 more," said Savelyev.

Official reports say the SaM146 engine powering the Superjet 100 burns 3% more fuel and is 114kg heavier than promised.

The aircraft's operating empty weight, meanwhile, is 27,735kg, compared with a target of 25,400g.

Target maintenance intervals are set at 750h for an A-check and 7,500h for a C-check. However, current production examples need extra inspections after 200 landings. They have temporary restrictions of 4,500h and 3,000 cycles within a five-year calendar period.

The first 13 deliverable Superjet 100 airframes will require work on force-bearing structural members in the wing consoles upon on reaching 2,000h, to beef up the main wing spar and a number of ribs. Separately, cylinders, locks and some force-bearing elements in the landing gear system have to be replaced after 1,700 flights.

Certification of the Superjet 100 by the European Aviation Safety Agency is due this year. Two aircraft have been delivered so far: one to Armenia's Armavia, which introduced the type to revenue service in April, and one to Aeroflot.

Sukhoi remains committed to delivering 12 by year-end, though sources question whether more than another four - one for Armavia and three for Aeroflot - can physically be handed over in the period.