Interjet’s Sukhoi Superjet 100 fleet supervisor is among pilots who praise the performance of the Russian-built regional jet, as the Mexican low-cost carrier continues to emphasise the high operational reliability of the aircraft.
“The good thing about this aircraft is that it’s built by the Russians,” says the fleet supervisor Diego Hernandez prior to boarding SSJ-operated flight 3863 from Mexico City to Mazatlan on 17 November. “It flies like a fighter. It’s very responsive.”
He flew the Airbus A320 for seven years prior to training on the Superjet, and the Boeing 727 before that.
In a media briefing the day before, the carrier said that its fleet of three SSJs – the third (registration XA-JLV) entered service on 17 November – have logged more than 800 flight hours since commercial flights began in September.
Jose Luis Garza, chief executive of Interjet, told Airline Business on 15 November that its first two Superjets have achieved a 99.02% technical dispatch reliability.
Technical hitches with several Aeroflot aircraft, including gear retraction and slat deployment issues, resulted in the Russian carrier swapping out its first 10 SSJs in exchange for updated versions with configuration and avionics changes from May.
Hernandez says that the SSJ is burning between 1,800kg (3,968lb) to 1,900kg per hour in cruise.
Interjet pilot Eduardo Camilo, who joined Hernandez in the cockpit of flight 3863, describes the aircraft’s handling as “very stable” and says that it responds quickly to inputs to the fly-by-wire controls.
“It has very good technology for the type of airplane,” he says when asked to compare flying the Superjet to his 16-years at the controls of A320s. Camilo adds that it is not easy to compare the regional jet to the larger narrowbody.
“The Airbus is a lady and this is a gentleman,” says Hernandez of the SSJ.
Interjet anticipates taking delivery of two more SSJs this year, 11 in 2014 and four in 2015 for a total of 20. It has options for 10 more aircraft.
The airline plans to use them on regional, “mid-density” routes, in the words of Garza, within Mexico and to the USA from its hubs at Guadalajara, Mexico City and Monterrey.
Maintenance for the fleet will be concentrated at Mexico City Benito Juarez International airport, while maintenance for its A320s will continue at Toluca International.
Flight 3863 took off smoothly from Mexico City’s runway 05L at 14:15 local time, with its two PowerJet SaM146 engines settling into a low, steady hum for the duration of the short flight. The aircraft (XA-IJR) landed in Mazatlan at 14:31 local time.