Sukhoi calls on Superjet suppliers to get faster, cheaper

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Halfway through a pivotal year for the programme, the Russian manufacturer of the SSJ100 Superjet has called upon suppliers to boost output and slash component prices of the 75- to 95-seat regional jet.

At a suppliers summit in Moscow on 14 June, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company president Vladimir Prisyazhnyuk emphasised correcting what has become a lingering concern both within and outside the programme.

Although Superjet officials had promised to deliver 15 SSJ100s in 2011, only six aircraft were received by airlines. The pressure on maintaining rate is only growing as current plans call for delivering 23 aircraft in 2012, 40 aircraft in 2013 and 60 in 2014.

"We should increase the production rates and strengthen the after-sale support to make the SSJ100 program successful both in local and international markets," Prisyazhnyuk told the suppliers, according to a Superjet press release.

Prisyazhnyuk linked the urgency of increasing output to recovering the programme's image following the crash of a SSJ100 on a demonstration flight in Indonesia on 9 May, that killed all 45 people on board.

"The readiness of key partners and suppliers of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 programme to work jointly on increasing production rates and improving components quality reflects not only the support of the program after the recent tragedy in Indonesia but the confidence in the future success of our product," Prisyazhnyuk said.

Sukhoi's slowed output last year was blamed on supplier performance, particularly with Power Jet's deliveries of SaM-146 engines to KNAAPO for final assembly with the airframe.

The six deliveries last year arrived about 2.5 years behind the programme's original schedule, even as the backlog for the SSJ100 grew to a total of 168 orders.

With the first several aircraft now in service, Sukhoi also is pressuring suppliers to improve the quality of their products and their responsiveness to customers' complaints.

The manufacturer's press statement after the suppliers summit included a reference to its partners response to these demands.

The SSJ100's suppliers expressed their "readiness to undertake all necessary measures to increase production rates and improve their product quality," Sukhoi says. "In order to provide smooth SSJ100 operations by the airlines, suppliers expressed their readiness to improve their responsiveness to the customers' requests."

But even that effort may not be enough to help increase the SSJ100 order count. The pressure on the programme to lower prices also was evident in the press release, with Prisyazhnyuk imploring his partners to lower prices to preserve the programme.

"Key partners and suppliers also confirmed their readiness to continue cooperation with SCAC on re-pricing," Sukhoi says, adding the partners understand "the necessity to improve the economic conditions relevant to the supplied parts, with the firm intent to promote the SSJ100 programme."