Designed and developed for regional aircraft, the real in-service challenge for the SaM146, the SSJ's all-new Franco-Russian powerplant, will centre on establishing a well-defined and effective engine support network.

SaM146 support will however reap the immediate benefit of Snecma's relationship cemented over recent years with Russia's NPO Saturn and through which the French engine maker subcontracts on parts for the 441 CFM56 engines active within the Russian fleet.

PowerJet, a joint venture between the two, will handle all aspects of the SaM146 programme including MRO. It will offer power by the hour support for the entire propulsion system through Snecma Services and NPO Saturn with a dedicated services division determining where overhaul and repair work will be sent.

PowerJet chief executive Jean-Paul Ebanga is confident that the engine's inbuilt low cost of ownership will give it a head start in terms of market credibility. "The engine's modern lean architecture based on CFM experience has fewer parts than all its competitors which will help reduce maintenance costs. That optimised cost of ownership - due to engine reliability, low parts count, easy flightline maintenance and reduced repair costs - will help achieve a 20% cost reduction over current engines in its class."

Snecma Services chief executive Jean-Lin Fourneareaux says the venture is developing a complete support organisation with dedicated round-the-clock customer centres with AOG and routine operational support services shared between both France and Russia. Snecma Services will base one team at its Paris support centre and help establish a new Rybinsk centre in 2008.

Fourneareaux says Power­Jet is committed to further developing a network of SaM146 service centres throughout Europe and Russia and including eventually North America.

Training and flight operational support will similarly be based both in France and Russia as will on-site maintenance and shop repair with technical documentation available on CD-ROM and online via the Internet.

Fourneareaux stresses that SaM146 field representatives will be assigned to each airline customer based on the current CFM on-site support model."I can't stress how important this will be as our guys will be as close to the customer as possible," he says.

Bernard Boutin, general manager for Snecma Services's regional jet programmes has worked with NPO Saturn since late 2001 and commends the speed with which it has implemented a Western maintenance philosophy. "The challenge of this venture will be the same for any new initiative, not because it involves a Russian business which has proved to be a very strong industrial partner."

Source: Flight International