The Superjet 100 regional jet has been created in deep cooperation of the domestic aircraft industry with foreign companies. At the beginning of the 2000s most of the Russian aircraft systems and avionics manufacturers were not yet ready to supply components for the SSJ100 that could be certified in accordance with the requirements of EASA, FAA and other foreign regulators.
The incorporation into international cooperation contributed to the development of the Russian aircraft industry. Digitalisation has developed, promising production technologies have been implemented, experience in joint work in partnership with leading foreign developers of aircraft systems has been gained, and cooperation with leasing companies has been worked out.
Like any other modern aircraft project, SuperJet requires its own development. There have been several attempts to implement both smaller and larger versions of the aircraft:
- SSJ130 NG (2011-2013)
- SSJ100 SV (2016)
- SSJ75 (2017-2018)
- SSJ100R (2018)
- SSJ-New (2019)
While the initial plans of Sukhoi Civil Aircraft to modernize the SSJ100 included only a change in passenger capacity, in recent years, the import substitution and creation of an airliner, which would have a minimum number of foreign components, now they are 60-70 percent of the aircraft has become paramount.
The issue of import substitution was particularly acute in 2016-2017 when trying to conclude a contract for the delivery of 12 Superjets to Iran. It is impossible to sign such an agreement; it requires a license from the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department, as the Islamic Republic is under sanctions by the U.S. and the European Union, and Regional Aircraft Corporation, a subsidiary of Irkut Corporation (former JSC GSS) has assets in Sitak (Washington State), valued at $420,000 by a U.S. court in 2012. Without a license, Irkut, as the parent organization of civil aviation, would fall under restrictive measures by the U.S. authorities. Thus, if earlier the modernization of the aircraft was considered only from the technical point of view, now it is more of a political aspect.
The SSJ-New will essentially be a new aircraft. The programme envisages the development of an airliner in which dozens of foreign systems and units will be replaced with domestic ones. According to Sergey Chemezov, CEO of Rostec State Corporation, about 97% of foreign components in the new Superjet will be replaced.
Import substitution will affect air conditioning systems, brakes, power supply, water supply and waste disposal systems. Also the crew oxygen system, air leakage detectors, icing and air temperature detectors, landing gear, passenger seats and heat and sound insulation will be replaced.
The major innovation of the SSJ-New will be the prospective PD-8 engine. The new power plant is being developed on the basis of technologies used in the PD-14 engine. The absence of a domestic turbofan engine with the thrust class of 7-10 tons has been restraining the development of many aircraft programmes and increasing the dependence on imports. The PD-8 would solve this problem. It can be installed both on the upgraded SuperJet and multipurpose Be-200 amphibian aircraft and also on prospective helicopters in turboshaft version.
The SSJ-New’s entry into series production directly depends on the timing of the creation and certification of the PD-8 engine. According to Vladimir Artyakov, Rostec’s deputy general director, the gas generator, the main part of the engine, will be put to the test in 2021 and the PD-8 will be certified in 2023. Development work on the engine’s gas generator is being carried out by ODK-Saturn.
Currently, SSJ100 aircraft are being fitted with SaM146 engines produced by PowerJet, a joint Russian-French company, which can also be used on SSJ-New if potential customers for the aircraft are interested.
According to Yuri Shmotin, Deputy General Director – General Designer of UEC, the corporation understands that the Superjet family needs an engine that will be superior to the SaM146 in terms of technical characteristics.
The work on import substitution of foreign components of the aircraft continued in 2020 and flight and ground tests of Russian systems and units were carried out within the SSJ-New program.
In February, testing of a new air cooling unit (AHU) manufactured by JSC Teploobennik began. The unit is part of the air conditioning system and is its main unit. The system is responsible for three important processes: supply of fresh air for people’s breathing and maintaining a normal pressure level in flight (supercharging), ventilation of aircraft compartments, temperature regulation in the cockpit and the passenger compartment. The AHU cools the hot air coming from the aircraft engines or auxiliary power plant to create comfortable conditions at all temperatures, including extreme outside temperatures.
The Ufa Aggregate Production Enterprise (UAPO) is developing a power supply system consisting of power generation and distribution subsystems. Ufa NPP Molniya – engine vibration control systems, a calculator of the integrated air conditioning system and an anti-icing alarm system for the SuperJet. Both companies are part of the Technodinamika holding company.
The Technodinamika companies are also developing new landing gear, water supply and waste disposal systems for the SSJ-New. The first delivery of a pilot batch of landing gear is expected by 2023.
Irkut submitted more than 20 tenders in the spring of 2020 for the manufacture and supply of systems for the SSJ-New aircraft. In particular, the following components are to be developed:
- Prototypes of the power supply system.
- Prototypes of the landing gear system.
- Prototypes of business class passenger seat kits.
- Prototypes of ventilated cabin temperature sensors.
- Prototypes of telescopic wing PIC pipeline.
- Prototypes of economy class passenger seats.
- Design, manufacture, testing and delivery of an on-board information system.
- Development, manufacture, testing and delivery of the flight data recording system.
- Prototypes of emergency gangways.
More than 3 billion 915 million rubles is allocated for development and delivery of systems on 23 tender bids. The list for the import substitution includes 64 names of components, and at least 24 Russian enterprises will be working on their delivery.
Voronezh Experimental Design Bureau of Motor Engineering began to develop a component of the complex control system – gearboxes and transmission shafts of the wing mechanization control system, flap and slat drive for SSJ-New. The corresponding contract for development work was signed in May 2020 between OKBM and Elektroprivod JSC, part of Technodinamika Holding Company. The contract includes all stages of development work – development of engineering and detailed design, prototype production, preparation and testing, as well as support for certification. The work will be carried out between 2020 and 2023.
Flight tests of inertial navigation system BINS-2015 are being conducted in Zhukovsky on one of the SSJ100 prototypes. The system was developed at the Moscow Institute of Electromechanics and Automation (part of JSC KRET). The navigation system is designed to accurately determine the position of the aircraft and its movement parameters. The main feature of the inertial systems is their complete autonomy – they operate independently of ground and space-based sources of signals.
Development work on the SSJ-New is scheduled to be completed in 2023. The airliner will then undergo certification of individual systems and the aircraft as a whole. Work in this direction is already underway: the Federal Air Transport Agency has accepted an application for approval of a major change in the basic design of the SSJ100 aircraft, consisting of the introduction of a new aircraft model – RRJ-95NEW-100 (SSJ-NEW) within the import substitution of components.