Superjet product development part of SJI restructuring talks

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Talks between the SuperJet International (SJI) shareholders over the reorganisation of their partnership are addressing product developments that include stretched and re-engined versions of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ).

SJI shareholders comprise Alenia Aermacchi with a 51% stake and Sukhoi Holding which owns the remaining 49%. Discussions are ongoing about restructuring the partnership, which SJI chief executive Nazario Cauceglia will encompass a product development plan.

“There are different alternatives on the table, such as a stretch to create a product family or even a new generation of regional jet with a new engine and a new wing - maybe composite,” he says. “The shareholders certainly intend to react to what the competition – Airbus and Embraer - is doing, but we have a little bit more time than them because the SSJ is not an old generation product.”

The most direct competitor to the 100-seat SSJ is the Embraer E-Jet family, and SJI is conscious of the threat posed by the re-engined E2 variants due to enter service from 2018. These feature a serious of upgrades that include a revised wing and Pratt & Whitney PW1000G geared turbofans in place of the current GE CF34 powerplants.

SJI claims operating cost advantages over the current E-Jet family and, aims to take advantage of being able offer new customers deliveries from 2015, much earlier than the E-Jet E2. “Compared with the new Embraer, the time is on our side. That’s why we cannot miss the opportunity,” says Cauceglia.

But SJI recognises the need to adapt the Superjet product line to remain competitive: “The short term solution could be a stretched version [available within five years], and the long term could be a new generation aircraft,” he adds.

Given how the market has reacted to the PW1000G, Cauceglia says SJI has “no choice” but to consider the geared turbofan for its new generation regional jet. “[That is] unless the Russian/French partnership decides to launch a new version of the PowerJet,” he adds.

The SSJ is currently powered by the conventional SaM146 turbofan, developed by Safran and NPO Saturn and marketed by the PowerJet joint venture.