May’s Aircraft Report: The Sukhoi Superjet 100

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The Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) aircraft is a four/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.

In August 2005, the Russian government and Sukhoi signed an agreement under which the SSJ100 programme would receive 7.9 billion rubles of research and development financing under the Federal Program titled Development of Civil Aviation in Russia in 2005/09.

The SSJ100 is powered by two SaM146 engines rated at 15,350-lb each developed by PowerJet, a joint venture between Snecma (Safran group, France) and NPO Saturn (Russia).

The assembly line is located in the facilities of Komsomolsk on Amur Aircraft Production Association (KnAAPO), while the Novosibirsk Aircraft Production Association (NAPO) focuses on component production.

Four prototypes are involved in the certification campaign. The SSJ100 conducted its maiden flight in May 2008 and received type certificate in January 2011 from the Russian Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC IR). The European Aviation Safety Agency certification (EASA) certification is expected by the end of 2011, according to Superjet International.

There are 17 aircraft are in production at various stages of completion, including six in the final assembly shop. This year, Sukhoi plans to deliver a total of 13 aircraft: two to Armavia, 10 to Aeroflot and one aircraft to Yakutia Airlines from the Financial Leasing Company order.

Armenian carrier Armavia received the first SSJ100, MSN 95007, in April and is due to take delivery of MSN 95009 next month.

Aeroflot-Russian Airlines' first four slots include MSNs 95008, 95010, 95011 and 95012 with the first aircraft expected soon.

Sukhoi Holdings director Mikhail Pogosyan recently said that production rate will increase to 40-50 a year in two to three years and could rise to 60-70 a year.


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.

In the Russian domestic market, the SSJ100 is intended to replace ageing Tupolev Tu-134 and Yakolev Yak-42 fleets. Internationally, the new aircraft will replace Fokker F100s, BAe 146/Avros and CRJs.

SuperJet International believes that the flexibility of the SSJ100 that gives superior passenger experience, comparable to mainliner, with operational costs of a regional fits at best with different market. "Replacement of old 100 seat aircraft (F100, BAe 146, Avro, some 737) is only one part of the opportunities for the SSJ100 aircraft. Airlines can also fly the aircraft in right sizing operations and to open new routes thanks to its lower operating costs," it comments.

The SSJ100 offers a 10% lower operation costs due to its weight perfection, economic fuel consumption and lower maintenance costs. According to Sukhoi, ongoing certification tests are confirming that the aircraft's direct operating costs are 6-8% lower than those of its competitor, the Embraer 190/195.

SuperJet International CEO Alessandro Fanzoni recently said that the SaM146 engine is able to lower fuel consumption by 10-12% over competing models.

At May 2011, the SSJ100 had racked 170 firm orders. SCAC had secured orders from Aeroflot (30 aircraft), Armavia (two aircraft), Kartika Airlines (30 aircraft), Avialeasing (24 aircraft), Finance Leasing Company (10 aircraft) and Laos' Phongsavanh Airlines (three aircraft).

SuperJet International's 71 aircraft orders included 15 for Mexico's Interjet, six for Willis Lease Finance Corporation, 30 for Pearl Aircraft Corporation, while another 20 aircraft were undisclosed.

CAO understands that the undisclosed order could be unveiled at the June's Paris Air Show.

The main marketing challenge for the SSJ100 programme will be to ensure sizeable orders from Western customers in a highly competitive market, which has arguably flattened out.

ItAli Airlines, which became the first SSJ100 Western customer in 2007, has been 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.

SuperJet International forecasts 5,600 aircraft in regional jets market over the next 20 years.

Opportunities for the 100 seat aircraft will mainly be in the: (i) evolution of the 50 seat market; (ii) replacement of old and inefficient aircraft; (iii) new market opportunities; and (iv) right-sizing operations of low load-factor narrow-body flights.

About 1,500 jet aircraft in the 60-120 seat segment will be retired over the next 20 years.

In the 30-60-seat market the Italian company forecasts 200 new aircraft over the forecasted period. Demand for the 61-90 seat segment is valuated at 1,900 new aircraft between 2010 and 2029. Another 3,500 aircraft are anticipated in the 91-120 seat market.

SuperJet International expects North America to represent 33% of the total demand in the 30-120 seat segment over the next 20 years, while Europe accounts for 24%. The company expects china to represent 11%, Asia Pacific 10%, Africa and the Middle East 8% while the Russian/CIS and Latin American each account for 7% of the total demand.

Appraiser's views

The SSJ100 is entering a market segment featuring a variety of aircraft types, differing hugely in terms of commercial success. The field is dominated by E-Jets and CRJs, while other new entrants include the Chinese ARJ21 and Mitsubishi's MRJ.

Avitas Director - Asset Valuation Martin P. O'Hanrahan says the Superjet has several very positive factors in its favour, including SNECMA's participation in the engine design, a western avionics suite, and a product support agreement involving Alenia. "The Superjet's potential to garner significant market share internationally should not be underestimated," he comments.

"The Superjet has already won orders outside Russia from Kartika Airlines of Indonesia and Mexico's Interjet, but it remains to be seen how far the type can go in terms of sales outside its home region."

Dr Stuart Hatcher of IBA Group says the design clearly offers alternate lift to 170/190 families and CRJ700/900/1000s. "A key aim of the Superjet 100 is to offer lower operating costs at a price that competes well against the solely western-built competitors," he comments.

"The competition will be tough but it will be up to Sukhoi to convince the operators of any operating cost advantage which will help their case in convincing the financiers as well."

Hatcher expects some orders to drop tough. "The exact status of the order book is unclear though there are apparently commitments for over 200 airframes. As is so often the case with non-western projects, IBA would suspect a good proportion of these commitments to end up with cancellations."

Vice President - Commercial Aviation Services' Gueric Dechavanne expects most orders to emerge from Eastern European operators. "I expect that this will be where most orders come from for the near term until the reliability and customer support for this aircraft can be proven by the manufacturer."

"The 70-100 seat market is one that is getting crowded which means that this aircraft will have to show that it can keep up with and/or exceed the capabilities of its competition. In my opinion, global support of this aircraft is the key to the aircraft's future success. Without it, operators will shy away from it and investors will not want to take the risk. With the industry starting to recover, I feel the Superjet has as good of a chance as any manufacturer to become a successful aircraft but it is still too early to tell whether this will be the case."

Lease rates and values

Superjet International says the list price of the basic version is $31.7 million and $32.3 million for the long-range version.

Hatcher would expect a $31-32 million list price to translate into a figure close to $22-23 million. "Of course, typical discounts may not apply for this aircraft outside of the first orders and therefore the delivery price may creep up towards $25 million. Aside from this, the early deliveries are expected to have received the best discounts that could put the price below $20 million given Sukhoi's need to expand their market westwards and reach that 1,000 unit target," he comments.

O'Hanrahan says the aircraft has a $23.3 million current market value, while Dechavanne anticipates a $26 million current market value.

Superjet International estimates lease rates between $240,000 and $270,000 per month.

Dechavanne sees the market lease rates around $220,000 a month while O'Hanrahan expects the lease rates in the $190,000 to $210,000 range. Hatcher says standard operating leases around $200,000 per month. "Whilst I'm sure that some may drop to $180,000 for the 'good credits', the norm may be closer to $220,000 as Western lessors will feel less comfortable with an aircraft that has Russian origins and no trading history," he adds.