Regional aircraft for international market

The upcoming completion of the Sukhoi Superjet 100’s certification program – and the startup of deliveries – are expected to give a big boost to its promotion in the international regional aircraft marketplace. Dmitry Matsenov, the senior vice-president for strategic development at Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Corporation (SCAC), reviews the Superjet 100’s competitive advantages, current marketing plans, and prospects for further evolvement of the Superjet model range.

— The certification program is nearing completion. To what extent has the aircraft confirmed the advertised economic advantages?
— It’s no secret that during the design phase, we targeted lower direct operating costs about 10% compared to our key competitor, the Embraer 190/195. So far, we have managed to reach good fuel efficiency, lift-drag ratio and weight characteristics, so that now the certification tests are confirming that our direct operating costs are 6-8% lower. That’s not yet the 10% we are after, but it still means serious savings for operators.

— What markets, apart from Russia, is the aircraft aimed at? Can it really break into the segments already occupied by competition?
— Our aircraft was conceived as a regional airliner not only for Russia, but also for the international market. This is why its runway performance, range and other capabilities allow for unrestricted operations in Siberia and the Middle East, from short European runways and in the Asia-Pacific region, covering distances of up to 4,500 km. This aircraft is designed to the highest international standards, and we expect it to be a market success.
This success must be secured, first of all, through the aircraft’s highly attractive operating costs and economic efficiency. In terms of specific cost per passenger and cost pre flight, we are better than the Embraer 190 by 6-8%. In terms of total fuel burn per sector we are at the same level as the Antonov An-148, but it accommodates 22 fewer passengers.
Also, we have better noise and emissions margins than our competitors. At present, all our rivals are within ICAO Chapter 4 standards, whereas we have a margin of about 10-13 EPNdB. So if Chapter 5 materializes, we will be comfortably within it, while our competition will have to think seriously about re-engining their existing products. We also have a serious margin under CAEP 6 emission standards.
In terms of passenger comfort, the Superjet 100 offers levels that are comparable to those of mainline aircraft. This will become evident if we compare its passenger cabin cross-section and ceiling height to other mainline and regional models.

— What are the current development plans for the Superjet model range?
— First of all, in the framework of the ongoing program, we must complete certification of our baseline aircraft. By 2012, the Long Range variant will hit the market. Therefore, we will complete the creation of the baseline platform for our civil aviation programs.
In parallel with this, we will launch a development of the Sukhoi Business Jet (SBJ). It will be derived from the baseline aircraft. Redesigning the wing and fuel system will increase its range to 7,500-8,000 km. There will be other changes unique to business aviation, such as built-in airstairs and business-class passenger cabin but overall, the baseline model allows for a fairly quick launch of the SBJ model — we are aiming for around 2013.
For further developments, we believe the most promising future product will be a larger aircraft that could be dubbed SSJ100 New Generation at the moment. In this segment, the market is awaiting the advent of our Canadian competitor’s CSeries aircraft, but even after it emerges, there still will be a window of opportunity in this market niche. The passenger capacity of our new aircraft is being defined at the moment, but I can already say that it will make wider use of composite materials and new technologies.

— Will the new model require new engines?
Yes, we study current options and new offers at the moment. We expect to give this project a conceptual framework this year, and present it to the market in 2011.

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