Sukhoi's Moscow design centre was selected as the location for a comprehensive suite of integrated test rigs complete with an engine simulator supplied by France's Snecma, jointly developing the SSJ's SaM146 turbofan.

Performing the same function as a traditional "iron bird" rig designed to integrate, optimise and validate aircraft systems, the test centre boasts a cockpit simulator with 180º-wide visual display developed by Russia's Dinamika.

Display wiring and sidesticks have yet to be installed, but eventually the cockpit will be fully representative of the SSJ and will allow test pilots to experience real failure modes as the system will mimic the whole electromagnetic environment.

Six test pilots are already using SSJ simulators to develop the aircraft flight manual, with the first draft already prepared. An operations manual is also in draft form and will be presented first to Russian airworthiness authorities.

At the TsAGI research institute, Sukhoi's engineering simulator has been operational since 2006 and has been used for initial training as well as developing control laws, allowing the airframer to see how pilots react to the SSJ's flight characteristics.

Sukhoi programme chief Igor Vinogradov says that through early work by its chief pilot and TsAGI simulator specialists, Sukhoi chose to adjust the control laws leading to a reduction of flap retraction time from 18s to 12s.

"[The original time] was found to be not acceptable because the aeroplane is flying very quickly and in European airports, where there will be a lot of congestion and a very short time for the pilot to go to landing, so we updated and redesigned the power transmission system to retract flaps more quickly," says Vinogradov. "Aero­dynamic efficiency proved to be too good and so power of the actuators was increased."

Source: Flight International