SJ-100 – import-substituted Superjet

Photo by © Yakovlev PJSC press service

Work on the development of an import-substituted version of the Superjet with PD-8 engines and domestic onboard systems began in 2018, but after the imposition of Western sanctions, it was seriously accelerated. At the site of the Yakovlev Production Centre in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, two prototype aircraft were laid down, as well as airframes for resource and static tests.

The first to be produced was the airframe of the resource model (97002), which was sent to Zhukovsky for testing at TsAGI at the end of July 2022. Then in August of the same year, assembly of the flight model s/n 97001 began, in November – the second, 97003, and in December – the airframe for certification static tests in SibNIA.

In the last days of August 2023, the first SJ-100 prototype (b/n 97021) with partial replacement of foreign components performed its first flight in Komsomolsk-on-Amur. To accelerate the test programme, it was fitted with French-Russian SaM146 engines. Another prototype aircraft, which was prepared on the basis of a serial SSJ100 s/n 95157, registration 97012, was connected to conduct advanced testing of the new PD-8 engines. The PD-8 engine was first launched in this aircraft in early October 2023.

The entire country is involved in the development of the updated version of the Superjet within the framework of industrial co-operation. The PD-8 engines will be produced in Rybinsk, the engine control arm unit in Kursk, the fuel system from St. Petersburg, tyres from Yaroslavl, brakes are produced in Balashikha, the power supply system in Ufa, and the water supply system in Dubna, external lighting equipment – in Ulyanovsk, glazing of aeronautical lights – in Obninsk, glazing of passenger cabin – in Smolensk, cabin interior – in Kazan, heat and sound insulation – in Tula, and final assembly is carried out in Komsomolsk-on-Amur.

Polyot supplies communications equipment: AMZ-MV short-range antenna kits and a set of intercom and public address equipment. Also, Poliot developed software for SJ-100 for data transmission in civil aviation networks. By order of NPP Polot, Penza-based NIIEMP developed electronic components for the onboard radio communication equipment of the Superjet and MS-21. Technical parameters of the new vacuum high-frequency switches allow replacing the products of American manufacturers Jennings Technology and Kilovac.

The onboard radio-electronic equipment of the aircraft is developed and manufactured by the Ulyanovsk Instrument Engineering Design Bureau (UKBP) of the KRET Concern. Here the full cycle of avionics production has been mastered: from design to after-sales service. If earlier for the Superjet (SSJ100) UKBP produced only one unit, now the enterprise produces a full line of avionics for the SJ-100. UKBP engineers have given priority attention to the pilots’ comfort. For example, the domestic screens in the cockpit became larger and more informative, long-term operational experience was taken into account, and proposals from airlines were received and implemented.

The inscriptions on the panels are in English. The UKBP explained this by the fact that pilots of mainline airliners and dispatchers of all countries speak the same language – English. Analyses of aviation incidents have shown that the use of one working language significantly increases the efficiency of communication in critical situations and reduces the probability of an accident. In addition, PJSC Yakovlev does not lose hope that sooner or later the Superjet will enter the international market, because it meets all its requirements, and then the cabin in English will allow our aircraft to operate without additional modifications.

The aircraft in the import-substituted guise has an increased wingspan from 27 metres 80 cm to 29 metres 70 cm. This is due to the installation of sabre-shaped wingtips – sabrelets. On the SSJ100 they were optional, installed at the customer’s request, now such aerodynamic winglets are standard. The saberlets are designed to reduce the inductive drag of the wing, they increase elongation and improve the fuel efficiency of the aircraft.

Initially, the wing aspect ratio of the base version of the SSJ100 was 10. This is a very high indicator of aerodynamic perfection, which Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company designers achieved in the 2000s without the use of winglets. For comparison, the B787 has a 10.03 and the A320CEO has 9.48 aspect ratio, even though these high-tech airliners are not produced without aerodynamic winglets, as it is a mandatory structural element. With the syberlets, the SJ-100’s wing extension ratio approaches 11, giving a four per cent improvement in fuel efficiency.

“There was no such thing on the first aircraft. The spigots were born as a result of work to improve the design of the original aircraft,” said Vladimir Lavrov, chief designer of the Superjet programme, on the programme “Military Acceptance” on the Zvezda TV channel.

The SJ-100 aircraft’s cyberlets are made of composite materials. The fairings, steering surfaces and landing gear flaps are also composite. At the same time, according to the designer, the wing was left metal, as in the original model, such a decision was the most expedient.

“The use of composite materials is a rather complicated process in terms of maximum effect, maximum expediency. The size of our aircraft is such that it is most optimal to use the traditional wing design,” explained Vladimir Lavrov.

In addition, the new aircraft has replaced the foreign wing mechanisation drive system with a Russian analogue developed by specialists from the Moscow Institute of Electromechanics and Automation (MIEA).

The enterprises of Technodinamika Holding have an important role in the import substitution programme. Ufa Aggregate Production Enterprise (UAPO) has created a power supply system consisting of power generation and distribution subsystems. Ufa Molniya Research and Production Enterprise – engine vibration control systems, a calculator for a complex air conditioning system and an icing signalling device for the Superjet de-icing system. Technodinamika’s enterprises have developed and manufacture landing gear, water supply and waste disposal systems for the SJ-100.

In total, about 97% of foreign components, including SaM146 engines, have been replaced in the upgraded aircraft. The new Russian PD-8s have already been installed on two prototype aircraft: Flight 97012 (s/n 95157), where imported components have been partially replaced, and Flight 97003, the third prototype aircraft, where they have been almost completely replaced.

Three SJ-100 prototype aircraft will be involved in certification trials over the next two years:

  • Flight 97021 (s/n 97001) – SaM146 engines, partially imported equipment replaced by Russian equipment. The first flight was performed on 29 August 2023;
  • Flight 97012 (s/n 95157) – PD-8 engines, partial replacement of imported components, ground testing of the propulsion system is in progress;
  • Flight number 97003 – PD-8 engines, almost complete replacement of imported components.