Additional time is required for testing and certification of the PD-8 engine. In this regard, the first SJ-100 aircraft for Aeroflot will be delivered not in the current year, but in 2024, said the head of the United Aircraft Corporation Yuri Slyusar, thus confirming the previously known fact of postponing the start of deliveries of import-substituted Superjet.
The comprehensive program for the development of the aviation industry provides for the transfer of two SJ-100 regional jets to Aeroflot Group this year. Starting from 2024, the Yakovlev Production Center in Komsomolsk-on-Amur is to produce 20 Superjets annually. However, given the additional time needed to test PD-8 engines, UAC is condensing the program and postponing the delivery of all 22 aircraft to 2024.
“We had a program to deliver two aircraft this year and 20 next year. We just compacted the 2024 program,” Yuri Slyusar said. He added that this was due to the fact that “the PD-8 engine testing program turned out to be a little bit longer than planned”. The UAC head noted that the certification was initially expected to be received by the end of 2023, “but, unfortunately, it was moved to the next year.”
Slyusar stressed that the PD-8 engine is brand new and its test program requires effort. “It is now flying intensively on a flying laboratory on the IL-76 aircraft at the Gromov LII. In principle, it shows the characteristics we originally needed. We hope that they will receive a type certificate in a short time and we will start testing the engine as part of the aircraft,” he said.
According to him, UAC, together with carriers, is now considering the option of preliminary operation as part of mixed crews so that they can begin to familiarize themselves with the aircraft, train and learn to fly it, and check the infrastructure. “The airplane has changed significantly. A foreign entity and a Russian entity are by and large two different projects, so airlines also need time to prepare the aircraft for operation. We and Aeroflot are going to enter this program,” Slyusar explained.
In July 2023, at the presentation of the new Yakovlev brand, Irkut deputy CEO Yuri Koritsky showed a slide that showed that the delivery of the first SJ-100 aircraft had been postponed until at least the third quarter of 2024, while the certification of the machine was scheduled for the second quarter of 2024. Yakovlev’s press service later said the presentation contained a technical error and incorrect information.
“We have a contract with the leasing company in accordance with which we are working, no one has changed the terms – it is the end of 2023. Perhaps the operation of these machines will already start next year, as it will take some time for the airline to organize the process,” Andrey Boginsky, CEO of PJSC Yakovlev, explained at the time.
Although the aircraft will be handed over to Aeroflot with a delay of up to a year, their technical acceptance, which does not imply the start of lease payments, may take place a little earlier, but they will remain on the manufacturer’s premises until the certification of all Russian systems and units is completed.
In response to Kommersant’s inquiry, Yakovlev emphasized that the safety and reliability of all systems is a priority. If the process reveals the need for additional tests or improvements, all measures will be taken to ensure flight safety. Rostec, in turn, supported this position, emphasizing that there can be no compromises with safety. The holding noted that possible adjustments of delivery dates by several months to the right cannot be considered critical.
The delivery of fully import-substituted SJ-100 aircraft is an important step in the development of the domestic aircraft industry. In 2023, not a single Superjet has left the workshops of the plant in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. This is due to the refusal of foreign suppliers from the United States and the European Union to cooperate with Russian aircraft manufacturers. In this situation, UAC had to increase the pace of import substitution and intensify flight certification tests of the PD-8 engine.