ANALYSIS: The Superjet 100 aircraft report

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The Sukhoi Superjet 100 aircraft is a five-abreast seat configuration regional aircraft aimed at short-to-medium range routes in the 95-seat regional jet category. With development starting in 2000, the aircraft was designed by the civil aircraft division of the Russian aerospace company Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company (SCAC) in co-operation with Alenia Aeronautica.

The Superjet 100 is powered by two SaM146 engines developed by PowerJet, a joint venture between Snecma (Safran group, France) and NPO Saturn (Russia).

The assembly line is located in the Komsomolsk-on-Amur Aircraft production facility in Russia’s Far East. The aircraft are then flown to the completion centres either in Venice or Ulyanovsk, depending on the customer geographic location.

The Superjet 100 is offered in basic (95B) and long range (95LR) variants, serving short to medium range routes between 1,645 - 2,470 nautical miles (nm).

The aircraft, which is available with 87 passengers in a dual class or 98 seats in a single class, conducted its maiden flight in May 2008 and received type certificate in January 2011 from the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC IR).

The first delivery was to Armavia in April 2011.

The European Aviation Safety Agency certification (EASA) certified the Superjet 100 in February 2012.

The fleet had accumulated more than 48,000 flight hours at mid-July 2014.

In 2007 Finmeccanica's company Alenia Aeronautica and Sukhoi Holding formed SuperJet International, a joint venture (51% - Alenia Aeronautica, and 49% - Sukhoi Holding) responsible for marketing, sales and aircraft delivery in Europe, North and South America, Africa, Japan and Oceania as well as for logistic support.

SCAC covers sales in the domestic market and the CIS as well as some markets in Asia.

Market

SuperJet International forecasts a demand for about 5,900 jets in the 30-120 seat market in its 2012-31 market outlook. Jets in the 91-120 seat segment will account for about 63% of total deliveries with 3,700 deliveries within two decades.

North America is expected to represent 32% of the total demand in the 30-120 seat segment over the next 20 years, while Europe accounts for 30%. The company expects China to represent 12%, Asia Pacific 11%, Latin American for 10% the total demand. The remaining 5% will be Africa and the Middle East.

Collateral Verifications’ Gueric Dechavanne says the recent announcements from Embraer to improve on the E-Jet products with the E2 version will most certainly put additional pressure on Sukhoi to further improve its current product. “However, as the E2 is still a few years away, this may allow Sukhoi to develop further enhancements to their existing products in order to better compete with the E2.”

SCAC does not yet see a need to put upgraded engines on its Superjet 100, but that this could change depending on performance of upcoming new-generation jets from its competitors.

Senior vice-president for economics and finance Artem Pogosian recently said the Superjet provides 6-8% in fuel savings over the current-generation regional jets.

The Russian manufacturer is still expecting its jet to have a 3-4% edge in fuel savings over upcoming new-generation aircraft such as the Mitsubishi Regional Jet and the E2 family.

As at 25 July there were 28 SuperJet 100s in commercial operations while another 14 were in storage, according to Flightglobal’s Ascend Fleets.

Another 122 units were on order.

Last year the manufacturer delivered 15 aircraft to customers.

Sukhoi has handed over 14 aircraft to customers since the beginning of this year including six units to Aeroflot Russian Airlines, four to Mexico’s Interjet and four to Russian oil charter specialist Gazpromavia.

Another 30 units are scheduled for delivery through the end of this year. Ascend says the 60 deliveries per year target by 2016 is ambitious.

In the Russian domestic market, the Superjet 100 is intended to replace ageing Tupolev Tu-134 and Yakolev Yak-42 fleets. At an international level, the aircraft will replace Fokker 100s, BAE Systems 146/Avros and Bombardier CRJ models.

Aeroflot Russian Airlines recently completed the replacement of its initial batch of 10 -95B units with the same number of full interior configuration -95LR variants.

The Russian carrier wanted an upgraded specification for the aircraft, including cabin interior, updated flight management system, and an improved weather radar with windshear detection.

Low-cost subsidiary Dobrolet is to operate Superjet 100s alongside Boeing 737-800s after parent company Aeroflot sought approval for a sublease contract.

The main marketing challenge for the Superjet 100 programme remains to ensure sizeable orders from Western customers in a highly competitive market, which has arguably flattened out.

ItAli Airlines, which became the first Superjet 100 Western customer in 2007, was dropped from the firm orderbook as well as Swiss leasing entity Asset Management Advisors. Malev's letter of intent in 2009 was frozen after a change in management at the Hungarian carrier.

Sukhoi recently provided more clarity to the order breakdown for its Superjet 100, detailing allocations covering 182 aircraft, although some of these are early-configuration aircraft being redelivered after their spell in service with Aeroflot.

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The revised list, contained in the civil aircraft division’s 2013 activity report, also confirms several customer changes.

Sukhoi has removed 30 aircraft for Indonesia’s Kartika Airlines as well as another 30 for lessor Pearl Aircraft. Nor does its list feature the six Superjets linked to Willis Lease Finance or the four originally destined for Blue Panorama.

Aeroflot and Interjet, with 30 aircraft each, are the main customers. VEB-Leasing is taking 24 on behalf of UTair and Ilyushin Finance has 20 in the backlog.

Transaero is listed as ordering 16, Indonesia’s Sky Aviation still has 12 and Russian firm Gazpromavia has 10.

Twelve others are distributed among six customers. Sberbank Leasing has three for carrier Moskovia, Lao Central Airlines has three, while both Yakutia and Centre South each have a pair. The other two are assigned to the Russian interior ministry and defence firm Rosoboronexport.

These identified customers account for a total of 154 aircraft. Another 28 are listed against “other customers” and “options” in the airframer’s activity report.

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The order picture is slightly confused because some of the customers listed are not taking brand new aircraft but rather a number of the 10 early-configuration Superjets originally delivered to Aeroflot but subsequently returned to the Sukhoi pool under a swap agreement for upgraded jets.

Earlier this month Ilyushin Finance signed an eight Superjet 100 longer-range variants agreement with Sukhoi. The deal follows up an order for 20 Superjets, including five -100LR variants, that was firmed up at the MAKS air show last year.

At the recent Farnborough air show Kazakhstani carrier Bek Air agreed to take delivery of seven aircraft, as the Fokker 100 operator intends to expand its route network into Russia and the Middle East. Three aircraft are expected next year and the other four in 2016. The aircraft supplied will be the long-range version but Sukhoi has yet to clarify whether the agreement involves new aircraft or the transfer of jets originally delivered to previous customers.

At Farnborough Mexican low-cost carrier Interjet said it was in talks to convert its 10 options. The carrier already operates eight Superjet 100s out of an order of 20 for the type, and chief executive Jose Luis Garza says its experience with the regional jet so far has been "extraordinary".

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft director Andrei Kalinovski said at the Farnborough air show that Indonesian carrier Sky Aviation is set to resume Superjet operations.

The Jakarta-based operator took delivery of units from Sukhoi in 2013. But it had to ground them along with the rest of its fleet in March this year, citing the lack of working capital and the need to find a new investor. The carrier has firm orders for nine more aircraft to be supplied over the next two years.

Appraiser's views

Ascend analyst Marlon Mejia says although the programme suffered some initial technical issues, its main export customer Interjet has reported high levels of reliability for the type and fuel burn performance that exceeds that of the carrier’s A320s in terms of unit cost. "Interjet plans to deploy the Superjet on US routes and has successfully operated the type on domestic schedules in a high altitude environment at Mexico City," he says.

However Superjet International still faces significant challenges to convince the market that a “Russian product”, even with significant Western content, can deliver performance required in today’s global markets, according to Mejia, particularly with respect to product support and dispatch reliability. "Further challenge revolves around the engine which many perceive as high risk compared to a GE, PW or RR product," he says.

Mejia understands that Ilyushin Finance may be leasing some aircraft to western European customers as a "low-risk" way for them to test the waters.

ICF’s principal Angus Mackay says the lower acquisition cost has been key in the Superjet 100 campaigns.

The current list price is estimated at $35.4 million for the baseline variant and $36.2 million for the long range version, but early sales to launch customer Aeroflot were supposedly made at $18.6 million, well below Bombardier and Embraer pricing for competing types, he says.

“The ability to reduce to such discounted levels and build commercially-viable sales volumes will be highly dependent on western market acceptance, particularly by potential operators, and on improved production efficiencies. Broad acceptance by western lessors appears unlikely at this juncture,” he adds.

SuperJet International has provided comprehensive support to Interjet, including a SuperCare “per-flight-hour” aftersales program, supported by a new parts warehouse for the Americas. As part of the deal, says Mackay, SuperJet has agreed to offer on-site technical support in Mexico with a dedicated engineering team during what the company calls the entry-into-service period and a permanent field service representative on-site for three years.

Despite this initiative Mackay believes there is significant risk associated with acquiring and operating the Superjet 100 model. “Without large levels of support from the OEM, it is unlikely a significant number of sales will be realized, and global market acceptance will be muted. The majority of future sales are expected from domestic sources, with longer-term international prospects diminishing with the introduction of Embraer’s E2 jets and its more fuel-efficient Pratt & Whitney GTF engines.”

The lack of available transaction data in the secondary market is difficult for appraisers to give market values on the type.

New aircraft should lease in the $200-200,000 region, says a source.

“The lease market is immature and deals closed between subsidiaries are not representative of the market,” he says.

IBA Group’s senior analyst Jonathan Mcdonald says that despite maligned service entry blighted by early returns from Armavia, less than ideal utilisation levels at Aeroflot, and a tragic loss of demonstrator in Indonesia, the operator base of Superjet 100 has widened to reasonable levels.

He estimates the Superjet 100 current market values to sit “comfortably” below those of the Embraer 190/195 variants.

A new delivery is valued at $24 million, he says. A 2013-vintage aircraft has a $21.5 million current market value while a three year old type is estimated at $17.3 million.

MBA says a 2014 delivery has a $20.8 million current market value, $1 million less than its base value.

For a two-years old example, the current market value is $18.1 million.

Market lease rates are in the $165-175,000 a month range for a new delivery, says MBA, $150-170,000 range for a 2013-vintage, and $165-175,000 a month range for a two-years old aircraft.

Ascend's market lease rate opinions range from $130,000 per month for a 2010-build aircraft to $155,000 per month for a new 2013-build aircraft. Monthly lease rates for a new build aircraft is $170,000.

Collateral Verifications’ Gueric Dechavanne sees the market lease rates around $210,000 a month for a new delivery. He has $155,000 monthly lease rate for a 2013-vintage and $140,000 a month for a 2011-built aircraft.

Dechavanne estimates a new delivery at $24.5 million current market value. A three-year old delivery has a $16.1 million current market value and a 2013-vintage aircraft has a $18 million valuation.

Ascend’s market values range from $13.5 million for a 2010-build aircraft to $17.8 million for a new 2013-build aircraft. New 2014 builds are valued at $20 million. "This pricing is very competitive against E-Jets and still competitive with CRJs as the Superjet 100 offers a much larger and comfortable cabin," says Mejia.