Franco-Russian venture seeks more applications for RRJ’s SaM146 engine, but must avoid treading on CFMI’s toes

Power Jet is to offer its SaM146 turbofan to other airframe manufacturers as it seeks additional business beyond the engine’s initial application, the Sukhoi Russian Regional Jet (RRJ). However, thrust growth of the new engine must be limited to avoid conflict with programme partner Snecma’s other civil powerplant, the CFM International CFM56.

Snecma is one half of the team that is building the 14,000-18,000lb thrust (62-80kN) SaM146 for the RRJ, the other partner being Russia’s NPO Saturn.

Speaking at the Paris air show Power Jet chief executive Michel Dechelotte said that while the 60- to 95-seat RRJ family is the prime focus for the engine, other potential “regional airliner and business jet” applications are being considered, either as new-build or re-engining programmes. He gave as examples the General Electric CF34-powered Bombardier CRJ and Rolls-Royce AE3007-powered Embraer ERJ. The Antonov An-148, which is currently powered by Russian Progress D-436 engines, and the CF34-powered Chinese AVIC I Commercial Aircraft ARJ21 are also candidates.

Dechelotte acknowledged that the prospect of offering the SaM146 on a CF34-powered aircraft like the CRJ potentially brought Snecma into conflict with its CFMI partner GE, but he does not believe it is a major issue. However, he revealed there is a conflict-of-interest issue raised by Snecma’s CFMI joint venture with GE that will impact the SaM146: “Because of our CFM partnership, there is a cap on how high we can grow the SaM146 thrust.” He added that this limit is determined by the bottom end of the CFM56 thrust range – around 18,000lb.

Sukhoi is studying a slightly larger, 110-seat RRJ variant, which could require additional thrust. “There is a little additional thrust available, but if 19,000lb is needed we may have a problem with GE,” said Dechelotte. Power Jet and Sukhoi hope to secure the first firm orders for the RRJ at the MAKS2005 air show in Moscow in August, to enable the programme to be fully launched. The first test engine is due to run in April next year.


Source: Flight International