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​United Aircraft concentrating on customer service: chief

Russia’s United Aircraft plans to enhance its customer service capabilities for the Superjet 100, and make customer service a priority for the Irkut MC-21 and CRAIC CR929 programmes.

In an interview with FlightGlobal prior to Air Show China in Zhuhai, UAC chief Yuri Slyusar said that the company was working with both its foreign and Russian customers to improve the Superjet's after-sales programme.

“We intend to invest substantively in after-sales services, both in the central spares stock and in enhancement of the existing stocks capacity…as well as the capacity required for aircraft maintenance,” he says.

“Looking ahead, we plan to come up with a single unified after-sales system for UAC commercial aircraft.”

The company will apply lessons from the Superjet programme to both the MC-21 and CR929. UAC and Comac have formed a joint venture, CRAIC, to develop the new long-haul CR929 twinjet, which is expected to enter service in the late 2020s.

Given that the primary market for the CR929 is the Asia-Pacific region, service facilities and spares warehouses will be developed in both Russia and China. Slyusar says that support is key priority for the developmental type, and a focus area in discussions with suppliers. To be selected as a supplier, a company must have sufficient number of service facilities, warehouses, and technicians globally.

Customer service issues and spares shortages have been a major stumbling block with the Superjets operated by Mexican carrier Interjet. In its most recent financial quarter, the airline received Ps733 million ($39.6 million) in compensation for maintenance costs related to its Superjet fleet, after it was forced to ground at least four of the type during the past year or so.

In a bid to keep Interjet as a customer, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, the type's manufacturer, is offering cabin densification and fuel-saving 'sabrelet' winglets.

“Our partners are improving the business model, and we are intensively involved in this process by working out proposals and actions concerning fleet adaptation,” says Slyusar. “This means that we are looking for possibilities to enhance the operational capacity at high altitudes, and improving take-off and landing performance, as well as the layout arrangements.”

Sukhoi is also offering other customers upgrades in the form of saberlets and improved landing-gear doors, he adds.

Slyusar touches on the request for information related to the CR929 issued in May. He lists three of the respondents: Rolls-Royce, General Electric, as well as a joint response from Russia’s United Engine and the Aero Engine Corporation of China.

“This work will be completed by the end of the year, following which potential suppliers will be selected to pass to the precontractual work stage," he says.

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