PICTURES: Sukhoi Superjet's SaM146 engine nears flight on Il-76 testbed

Washington DC
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Delayed flight tests of the SaM146 engine for the Sukhoi Superjet 100 will start soon, says Snecma, which has posted pictures of the Ilyushin Il-76 engine testbed taxiing on its website.

Originally planned for February, flights with the 13,500-17,500lb-thrust (60-78kN) turbofan replacing one of the Il-76TD's Saturn D-30KPs were scheduled to begin by early September, but were delayed to install additional test equipment.

Sukhoi Civil Aircraft has previously said that 40 engine test flights were needed to gain Russian civil aviation authority approval for the maiden flight of the Superjet 100, which was planned for mid-December.

Snecma says the Il-76, modified by Russian flight research institute LII Gromov, is being prepared for flight at the Zhukovsky test centre southeast of Moscow, where the initial test campaign will be conducted.

Plans call for the Il-76 testbed to conduct a second test campaign at Snecma's flight test centre in Istres, France. The SaM146 is mounted on the port inboard pylon.

The SaM146 is being developed by PowerJet, a joint venture between France's Snecma and Russian engine manufacturer NPO Saturn.