Sukhoi is in celebratory mood at ILA2008 as the Russian airframer breathes a collective sigh of relief at the delayed but finally successful first flight of its latest foray into commercial aircraft building.

The prototype Sukhoi Superjet 100 - that carries with it so many hopes for the future of the entire Russian commercial aviation industry – had its maiden flight at the Russian company’s production and test centre at Komsomolsk-on-Amur, last week (19 May).

The flight marks the beginning of an extensive trial programme involving six test examples - and around 600 flights – before certification is achieved.

The SSJ100’s debut flight was captained by Alexander Yablontsev, chief pilot of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, and test pilot Leonid Chikunov. As planned, the crew spent just over an hour in the air, and took the SSJ100 up to a height of 1,200m having flown over the take-off runway four times at different heights before completing a box pattern circuit leading to a successful landing.


The crew confirmed that the flight – delayed for around six months - went precisely according to plan.

"I am happy! At last, after so many years we are here. We did it. I am very delighted that we are the first who have taken the new Russian jet off. This aircraft is a real success, and I can surely state that it is as easy to pilot as Airbus’ or Boeing’s planes I had previously captained," said Yablontsev.

Following the prototype Superjet’s maiden flight, it should be delivered to the Gromov Flight Test Institute at Zhukovsky, with public display and demonstration flights following next month.

It’s planned to roll-out the second test example in the summer, the third in the autumn and the fourth towards the end of this year. Two further aircraft will be involved in ground trials.

Aeroflot is a launch customer for the aircraft with 30 aircraft on a firm order but Sukhoi is facing an uphill task of pushing the aircraft through certification in order to meet the original delivery schedule and avoid possible penalties.

Powerjet jv geared up for growth

Franco-Russian joint venture PowerJet is gearing up for certification and serial manufacture of SaM146 engines (13,500 to 17,500 pounds of thrust) to meet demand arising from the Sukhoi Superjet 100 programme. This first follows an extensive ground and flight testing programme on the SaM146 in which the test engines racked up more than 1,100 test hours. A total of eight SaM146 engines will be used for certification testing.

“To date we’ve secured orders for up 200 engines,” claims PowerJet partner NPO Saturn’s director Yuri Lastochkin. Firm orders placed with PowerJet are enough to equip more than 70 Superjets ordered from Sukhoi by half a dozen airlines. Overall the manufacturer plans to produce at least 800 aircraft.

Saturn and PowerJet partner Snecma have around 20 engines under construction in France and Russia. Final assembly and fine-tuning will be carried out at the Volga Aero plant in Rybinsk, and ground trials at Saturn’s nearby test facility.

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Source: Flight Daily News